Time to get out of isolation, and network...
AFQY events are the perfect place to start your networking, regardless of why you need to network, as AFQY is an environment created purely for Peer-2-Peer networking, hence it's an easy event to start with.
Networking is not a "black art", it's as simple as being yourself
It's true. Be yourself, be genuine and as long as you're not an axe murder you'll do well, at networking that is. The gap as I have written before is that people who are not comfortable or experienced networkers sometimes feel akward and unsure about how to be themselves, more concerned about being rude inadvertently, or that there is this 'secret code' that they don't know and will stick out like a sore thumb.
Not the case.
If you are new to networking (The formal version for meeting people at an event versus meeting through friends at a BBQ), and not feeling it, there here are a couple of tips to give you confidence you won't offend and just slip into talking to people:
- Start with "Hello, my name (Your-name), how are you enjoying the event?" - This is a great way as you have tackled the introduction and you now know their name, and you've shaken hands which tells you a little about them, as yours will tell them about you. You've also created an opening conversation subject, the event you are both at right now and is easy to talk about; How you got there, where you parked, gaining entry, other people you've met, if you've met the host, why you are here... see loads to START with ;-)
- Ask them another question, but make it about them and keep it open, you don't want to kill a conversation with a Yes or No question. Often the fall back is "What do you do?", however, I prefer to start with something else about them as it is not so confronting a question. I try if it;s 3rd, 4th or 5th and enables you to get to know each through a mutual exchange from their accent.
- Leaving your first conversation can be as simple as the other person needs to! But if you need to you can use a range of reasons, I tend, to be honest:
- It's been great meeting you just now, I'm just going to grab a drink, excuse me
- I need to excuse myself to use the facilities (Bathroom/Toilet)
- Excuse me I need to check my phone, my wife/partner/husband is unwell and I'm checking intermittently
- Would you be interested in exchanging cards so we could meet in person to have the longer version of this conversation and we can use this event to network and make some more good connection? - note: When you say, "..more good connections..." you are complimenting them at the end of the sentence thus they will feel warm about the rationale
- See it's not hard, you'll be able to try and test some of these at the next AFQY
Now you are over the abyss
You have initiated and conducted your first connection and conversation, and are now confident...
Confidence is good, it makes you taller, speak clearer, have faster and funnier wit which makes you more attractive to anyone you may try to connect with next.
To join a group, first connect with an individual
Now you're moving fro that first conversation, to you next, likely a range of groups or clusters of people have formed and you are faced with joining one as most people are in groups. The benefit is, once you're in, you're in with all of them at the introduction level.
People take 4 seconds on average to judge someone, and lifetime justifying your judgement, so first impressions count.
To join a group, first, you need to connect with an individual within the group. Try walking up to but not into the personal space of the group, circle the group looking for someone you know or someone who appears friendly enough and this is measured by their body language, facial expression and attire, as all of these are an expression of their personality and mood. (Don't judge a book by its cover, but do make a judgement based on a collection of criteria).
- First make eye contact, smiling with your eyes is a very human way to communicate, and eyebrow raise is quite Kiwi and a Hello with your eyes, this attracts their attention to you and other in the group will notice it. That person may ensure silently gesture you to join the circle while the speaker is currently speaking. Body language and gestures enable an empathetic approach.
- Joining the group, both respect the speaker by looking at them as you enter for a few seconds to recognise and show to everyone, you respect that this person is speaking and you'll respect them speaking - this is communicating with body language and will open them up and warm them to your presence even if subconsciously, as both the limbic brain (fight or flight) and the frontal cortex (where analysis happens) both say "They are alright, carry on safely".
- Wait you turn, expect a que of those who want to say something as they've heard more, again try not to jump this queue or risk being judged for a range of things but nothing positive.
- When appropriate join the conversation, usually for me, when you feel you have heard enough to know the currency of the conversation and the personalities of the circle.
- Timing is everything, a millisecond between interrupting and responding straight away.
- If you want to jump in, because you have a game-changing statement then position your interruption appropriately, "Excuse me, I may be wrong but I feel I should raise the news that came out just before I walked in the door, it changes what you're suggesting...
These are all tips if you want to be polite, blend in and give little reason for people to judge you negatively or cautiously which immediately makes it harder for them to like you and open to you as they have judged you in 4 seconds, so give them the right 4 seconds, or not, if you want to b arrogant and direct go for it, Donald Trump, for example is loved for his style, I'm sure you would be too?
Thanks, I hope this helps those who are uncomfortable with meeting new meeting more comfortable