So when we were in high school, my homegirls and I always sat in the back of the class or in the back of the auditorium. The idea was to be so far removed from sight that no one could find us or ask us to “participate.” We found comfort sitting in the shadows, giggling and pretending like whatever the presenter was presenting wasn’t important. As adults, we continued this behavior at work.
When faced with a large conference room setting, we opted for the back row or the seat closest to the door. Now that we were all grown up, we all needed to rush out to hair appointments, date nights or childcare. Then one day we noticed that we weren’t being noticed in the office. There were meetings that we weren’t invited to and there were new players in the office that seemed to be on some kind of trajectory and we were getting nowhere. I had become the Queen of playing the middle when I had the opportunity to work with a businessman who had led several Fortune 1000 companies and was considered a key figure in leadership. I’d spent a few weeks working on the fringes, trying not to be noticed and being polite/cool peeps. One day, he walked over to me and said, “You are going to need to raise your profile if you want to continue working here.”
Sitting in Ambiguity
It was his voice that was in my head last week as I went into a large conference meeting in New York City. The room was cavernous yet I avoided the urge to sit in the back near the door. I spotted a Sistah Girl planted firmly in the second chair from the aisle in the third row. I approached her and I almost sat down next to her until I realized that she was playing the middle. She was being a Third Row chick! She didn’t sit in the back because she didn’t want to give the impression that she was professionally immature but….she didn’t sit in the front which says, “I’m here…I’m invested in the conversation.” She chose the Third Row…the row of ambiguity. It’s where you are there but not really there. I walked past her, took a deep breath and I promptly sat in the front row. I “raised” my profile.
As the room filled, the presenter sat next to me and shared some thoughts and ideas for her next book. My initially empty first row was now filled with Senior Executives and other esteemed guests. As I exited, the presenter was sure to shake my hand and announce that she would be checking out my blog.
Top 3 Reasons to Sit in the Front Row:
1. He/She will almost always call on you and answer your questions first.
2. The presenter will recognize your face that day and in future days.
3. Your profile will be raised and others in your business/company will notice you.
Try sitting in the front row at your next business conference. It could change your life.