4 Steps To Meeting New People

medium_508100756Networking and really connecting with new people is hard – and often painful. The conversation typically goes something like this…

Fred: “Hi, I’m Fred, how are you?”
Bob: “Fine thanks, I’m Bob how are you?”
Me: “Pretty good, no complaints. So what do you do?”
Bob: “Oh, I’m in real estate. How about you?

That’s a conversation on the way to nowhere.

Meeting new people and making contacts is so important – and we all know that. But, most of us aren’t very good at nor do we like doing it. And it appears to be getting harder. 60% of people describe themselves as shy. That’s up substantially in the last 20 years. So how can we make such an important process a bit easier?

  • Your State of Mind. If you walk into a roomful of people dreading what’s about to happen, it is likely not going to go very well. You get what you expect. A piece of advice I remember hearing years ago is to get there early. I find this very helpful. It is so much more difficult to walk into a crowded gathering. But when you are one of the first people there, starting a conversation with the other early birds is actually quite easy and natural.
  • Preparation. This is an often overlooked piece of the puzzle. “You’ve got to have a story to tell,” says networking expert Anne Baber. “You need to have something to say about you solving a problem, serving a customer, saving the day – so that you’re teaching people about your character and competence.”
  • Asking questions. People like people who show interest in them. And there is no better way to show interest than asking questions. What questions? A great one is “What are you excited about right now.” It works so well because the question demands your conversation partner discuss something exciting. And off the conversation flies.
  • Avoid the Bar? I know some people head straight to the bar for a drink before they talk to anyone – supposedly because a little alcohol drums up your courage and calms down the anxiety. Maybe so. But I have also heard that it isn’t the alcohol that relieves the anxiety – it’s time. In other words, the people who have a drink to calm down first would calm down anyway without the drink because you become more relaxed with time. However some people swear by that drink. Whatever works.

Another important part of the whole meeting-new-people process is remembering names. And a lot of us are terrible at it. The common advice is to repeat a person’s name out loud when you meet. While people swear they do – they don’t. Research has shown that only about 27% of people repeat a name after they first hear it when being introduced.
“You’ve got to get out there and meet new people.” It is sound advice and hopefully this will help make the process a bit easier and more intentional.
Do you have any little tricks or tips for networking and starting conversations? Please let me know in the comments below.

photo credit: Urban Mixer via photopin cc

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