Have you ever been forced to go to a networking event with the sole purpose being to mingle with total strangers and pray for a connection? Did you feel odd sitting at a table during the dinner and not know with whom to talk, or what to talk about? Well now you will have three simple steps to help you become more efficient than 99% of the others that are also attempting to make quick connections. Follow these steps and you will easily and quickly find similarities between you and those that are like you!
First, you must realize that you are not the only person who has had these feelings. Chances are that most of the other people in attendance have had similar experiences. Clammy palms, nervous knees and dry mouth are not exclusive symptoms to you. Once you realize these side effects are only temporary, you can use them to your advantage. I often take these feelings, these symptoms, as a sign that I am normal, in touch with life, and use them as motivation to perform. We are all human, and even the most accomplished people get butterflies. The key is to make them fly in formation. Every great athlete and performer gets a little nervous. Often it is these nervous butterflies that help make them compete to be the best! Cher, in her “Sonny & Cher” days, would get so nervous at the thought of performing live, that Sonny would have to go on stage with her to give her the emotional support she needed to perform. However, once able to step on stage, she was able to shine. She overcame her anxiety and continues to this day, some four decades later.
Second, at the event go up to anyone that looks like they might be alone and bored. Chances are that they would rather make small talk with someone friendly enough to introduce themselves, rather than sit alone and stare at their plate. Keep in mind that you are at an event where the main purpose is to network and socialize. It may be a little disconcerting at first approaching people, trying to make some connections, but that is why they are there too. Recently while at a fundraising event, I was in the same situation. I did not know one soul, but my goal was to come away with one personal connection. The primary goal was simply to make a friend and it was my only goal. I was fortunate enough to make that connection. I have not made any sales or received any meaningful referrals from this contact, but that is okay. I gained a friend, and who knows, maybe someday we will be able to help each other in some way.
The third and final step is to have fun. If I had set a goal to obtain a new client or a new referral source, I would have failed and failed miserably! You and I certainly don’t need that sort of pressure. Any preconceived ideas of what to expect before you even arrive will show through in your efforts. Remember to just have fun with the people and the event itself. You should introduce yourself to a few different people and get them to talk about themselves. How do you do this? Ask them about their favorite movie or movies. It works every time. Movies are safe. Sometimes you will both have seen the movie, and if not, there probably are similar movies that you have both seen. I’ll explain in my next article which movies should be on your must see list to quickly spark conversations and make the best potential connections. Also, you will learn how to determine how people think based on their favorite movies!