Friday, June 26, 2015

Networking with strangers

I hate, hate, hate networking with strangers, especially in a big ballroom that is ostensibly a "networking session".

It turns out I'm not the only one

Dorie Clark seems to feel as I do (or, I feel as she does) about approaching total strangers with small talk and icebreakers lines.

She writes:
  •  Make them come to you. The very best solution I’ve found for uncomfortable events where you don’t know anyone is arranging to be the speaker.
  • Bring a friend.  When you have a “wingman” at your side to help highlight your accomplishments at networking events, it can give you the confidence you need to approach others and break into conversations.
  • Have a few opening lines ready. They don’t have to be profound; the goal is to kickstart a dialogue
  • Research in advance. Finally, it’s easier to talk to someone if they don’t feel like a stranger. Even if you haven’t met them in person before, having some background information about them can suggest possible topics of conversation.
By the way, there is a difference between introverted and shy. Shy is the problem here, more so than introvert. That's why the techniques Dorie suggests are more aimed at creating comfort in a crowd where a shy person is more likely to be outgoing if there is safety in the environment and setting.

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