You’ve decided to attend a local networking event and confidently enter the room, register and . . . suddenly feel rather overwhelmed at the prospect of having to start a conversation with all these people that you don’t know. Add to that the fact that most people are already engaged in conversation in groups of two or three or four people.
How do you “break in” to these conversations that are already underway without looking (and feeling) like a dork?
This is the scenario — a very common one — that a new business contact of mine shared with me over coffee this week. The professional posing this question to me is a successful, well-liked, personable woman — yet, she was struggling with the awkwardness that arises when this occurs.
My advice? Ask for an introduction.
Almost every event I’ve attended has a registration desk and most have greeters as well. Let these wonderful folks help you out by telling them something like “I’m new to this group” or “This is the first time I’ve attended this event” and then add “would you mind introducing me to someone to help get me started?” My experience has been that the people in charge of welcoming attendees to an event are usually more than happy to help — and often know many of the people at the event.
Want to make this even more effective? Know who you want to meet.
Whether it is a specific person or company you are trying to connect with — or perhaps even an industry you are interested in, let your host know specifically who you’d like to meet. Instead of asking to be introduced to “someone,” simply insert your specific goal: “Would you introduce me to someone from ABC Bank?” “Would you introduce me to Mr. Smith of XYZ Accounting Firm?” “Would you introduce me to someone in real estate?”
By making your request specific, you make their job easier and you have a better chance of connecting with the people you most desire to network with instead of a random meeting.
What other ways do you have of starting conversations? Share your tip by leaving a comment below.