When you meet someone new, avoid talking about work.
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Imagine that two people are invited to a long-awaited meeting, perhaps a big work meeting or a social event at your child’s school. A person is full of enthusiasm to socialize with others. The other hopes that something, whatever, will keep them away from the event. The first person is energized by the idea of meeting while the other feels exhausted.
Meetings are unavoidable. Human beings are social beings so we need to connect with others both personally and professionally. The key to being successful in any meeting is to start your preparation at home.
come with a friend
Walking into a large, crowded room can be overwhelming. Consider arriving early before the room fills up and bring a friend or colleague. This way, you’ll have at least one person you can talk to and avoid awkward moments of loneliness.
Avoid transactional conversations
Receptions and meetings should not be transactional. Stop thinking about what you can get out of the conversation and instead work on building a relationship with your conversation partner. People like to work with those they know, like and trust, so consider how to develop that idea. If you are just trying to get something out of the conversation, it will come off as fake and your conversation partner will be looking for how they can quickly get away.
don’t talk about work
To make yourself memorable, don’t jump into a conversation about work. Instead, talk about something you have in common with your conversation partner. Anything from curly hair to the color of her glasses.
Prepare opening sentences
Starting a conversation is never easy, but having a few opening sentences ready will successfully start your dialogue with a stranger. These are benign conversation starters that can be used in most circumstances and are an integral ingredient in your professional toolbox.
If you’re overstimulated and overwhelmed and it’s just the middle of the night, consider ways to refresh and revitalize yourself. Find a quiet corner, run to the bathroom or find a balcony to get some air.
Create an exit strategy
No one said you have to be the first or last person at an event. Give yourself a time limit of how long you want to be there. No need to stay longer than default. Sometimes you just need to see and be seen.
While in-person networking events are unavoidable, recognize that there are other ways to connect with people, such as virtually. Try a few different methods and see which one is most comfortable for you. Remember to focus on building a relationship and avoid thinking about what you stand to gain from doing so.