Are you one of those people who dislikes going to networking mixers, office parties and other social events where you don’t know anybody?
If your answer is YES, continue reading, or watch the short video below.
A lot of us feel alone in a crowd. It usually happens when we focus on ourselves, and we wonder,
“Do I know the right things to say?”
“Do I look right?”
“Am I wearing the right clothes for the occasion?”
And so on and so forth.
I’m going to share some tools I mentioned in my book that would help you focus on other people and connect more authentically with them.
Find out who’s going to be at the gathering before getting there. Who do you want to connect with? Do they have a website or social media pages? It pays off to know interesting things about the people you want to connect with.
Make sure you’re up-to-date on major social events and current events.
Think of questions you could ask people you have never met before. I like to base these questions off of S.W.O.T. – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
A Strengths question are positive questions. They may be, “Do you know anybody here?” “What brings you to this party/social/networking event?” “What are you looking forward to this year?”
A Weaknesses question could be “Did you have a busy day before you came here?” “Is this a stressful time for you?” Particularly if you know that the company is downsizing, or that they’ve had a sickness in the family, or just became particularly busy for some reason. Let them know that you know that.
Opportunities would be, “What are you looking forward to next year?” “What’s exciting on the horizon for you?” “I heard that your child/spouse/partner received an award, or received a promotion, or just got a new car.”
It matters that you know them, and that you’re interested in knowing about them.
Threats questions could be, “What are your major concerns for the next few months/years?” Some people might respond with, “We have no idea how we are going to afford university. We save money for our child to go to a local university; now they want to go away somewhere else.” Or it might be, “Because the economy is bad, our company isn’t doing as well as we projected,” or “There’s a new product which is taking away from our sales.”
We don’t know what people would say.
But when they say something, the key is to take a nugget of it and repeat it back. That lets them know that you’ve heard them.
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Did you know?
The average adult can only listen between 8-14 seconds? What happens is as we listen, we’re making up what we’re going to say to the other person, or we change the topic altogether.
So what I’m suggesting is that we should listen. Let the person know that you’re listening.
Make them feel important because they are important, just as you are important. Be vulnerable, and let them be vulnerable.
You don’t have to know the perfect sentences or the perfect words or the perfect questions. They just want to know that you’re with them, you’re listening to them, you’re hearing them, you want to know about them. And then they’ll want to know about you.