Networking is a key ingredient in growing your business, and learning how to work a room successfully is a valuable skill in today’s global economy. It is also a valuable skill for building personal relationships, and it’s much more fun to mingle than to stand alone in a corner during a party.
Let’s begin with shifting our perception of strangers. If you consider that strangers are merely friends you haven’t met yet, then the prospect of engaging a stranger in conversation doesn’t seem so frightening.
Try the following tips and see what happens:
Find a common connection. Discussing how you’re connected to the event or the host is an easy way to start a conversation. It also invites someone you’ve never met before to open up and feel comfortable around you.
• Have you attended this conference before?
• How do you know the host/hostess?
• What brings you to this event?
Pay a compliment. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and admired. Following an introduction, notice something you like about the other person. Perhaps it’s a stylish tie or unique pair of earrings. Continue the conversation by asking where the person acquired it. This shows you are genuinely interested in getting to know them better.
• I couldn’t help notice your pendant … it’s absolutely stunning! Where did you get it?
• By the way, you have excellent taste … I was admiring your tie. May I ask where you bought it?
• I love your shoes! Where did you find them?
Explore interests. Asking questions about what someone enjoys doing outside of work opens many areas of conversation. Generally, we like talking about ourselves and we tend to love talking about what we enjoy most in life. You may learn that they love their work or they may share their personal interests. Either way you will learn a lot about them.
• What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
• Have you visited any interesting places lately?
• How do you celebrate all your hard work?
Find a buddy. You very well may not be the only newcomer in this group. Scope out other “newbies”. Then join forces to meet others. Finding a buddy will ease the discomfort of feeling isolated and out of place. It may also help bring out the socializer in you.
• Hi, my name is Ulana! Are you new to this group, too?
• Hello, are you here by yourself? By the way, my name is Ulana …
• Hi, my name is Ulana! I’m here by myself, may I join you?
Be honest and introduce yourself. Ok, so maybe you are the only newcomer to this group and everyone else is engaged in conversations. Don’t let that prevent you from stepping up, waiting for a lull in the chit chat and introducing yourself. Let them know that you don’t know anyone and would love the opportunity to get to know them. Your sincerity and courage will surely be admired and someone will take you under their wing to continue introducing you to the rest of the group.
• Hi, my name is Ulana! I’m new to this group and I’d love the opportunity to get to know you better.
• Hi, I couldn’t help notice how much fun you seem to be having … my name is Ulana.
• Hello, my name is Ulana … may I join your conversation?
I would love to hear your feedback and your mingling adventures or challenges. Please don’t hesitate to share your comments.
If your business or personal growth is being negatively affected by a lack of networking skills and strategies, perhaps it’s time to reach out for support. I would be delighted to work with you and explore networking techniques that will work perfectly for you. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your complimentary coaching session focused on networking.
Together, let’s unleash the networker from within you!