Approach New People at Events Like a Pro!

Approach New People at Events Like a Pro!

Approach New People at Events Like a Pro!

And still be yourself 🙂

 

woman-933488_960_720Going to a networking event for the first time can feel pretty scary, especially when you’re alone and you don’t know anyone.

 

I mean, the whole point in going to a networking event is to make new connections with people, right?

But it can be so awkward walking up to people you don’t know. And fear of this awkward feeling is enough to stop some people from networking entirely. And that’s a shame because networking is one of the most effective ways to grow and maintain a business.

NETWORKING IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE AND LOW COST WAYS TO GROW AND MAINTAIN A BUSINESS!

There are some people who are naturally outgoing and they have no problem whatsoever with starting conversations with people anywhere they go. For them, going to a new group is no problem. It’s no different than the millions of times they struck up conversations in grocery store lines, at the gym, in the public bathroom or even at a stoplight.

 

But this is not the case for an introvert. Starting conversations with strangers can feel very…well…….strange. Even for some of us extroverts, it can be difficult.

 

Huddle of Meerkats

The idea of walking up to a group of people you don’t know and standing there awkwardly waiting for who knows how long for someone to welcome you doesn’t exactly get people excited.

 

In fact, it can keep some people from going to the event entirely!

 

 

When you walk into a networking event and people are huddled in their little groups engaged in conversations, it can feel really challenging. Especially if you’re a newcomer to the group or event.

The idea of walking up to a cluster of people you don’t know and standing there awkwardly waiting who knows how long for someone to welcome you doesn’t exactly get people excited.

 

Many shy or introverted people would rather stand in one place, observing everyone and hoping someone comes up to them to relieve them from their discomfort.  But, remember the purpose for going networking in the first place? To connect with people we don’t know, right? Standing in one place and waiting for people to come to you isn’t exactly the best strategy to accomplish that goal.

“What am I supposed to do” you say?

Well, here are a few tips that might help.

 

#1 Connect with the organizer.

 

mentor-1563993_960_720Before you go to the event, find out who the organizer is and, if you can, locate a picture of them.

It’s easy to figure out who the organizer is when you look at an event on Facebook or Meet Up.com because whoever set up the event invite is most likely the organizer.

Or at least they are connected to the organizer. Either way, they are involved in the event and would be a good connection for you to make.

 

Once you’ve seen what they look like, you can look for them when you get to the event and introduce yourself.

 

 

Tell them that you’re new to the group and what business you are in. Then, ask them who they think you should meet in the room. They’ll be happy to introduce you to a few people and help you get past that initial difficulty of starting a conversation.As you meet new people, let them know you are new to the group as well. Networkers are usually great at making connections and will be happy to make some introductions for you.

 

Now, this does mean you will have to make yourself start a conversation with at least one stranger – the organizer.

 

But that’s much better than having to do it over and over again, or avoiding it entirely, standing there alone and wasting your time at the event.

 

#2 Bring a friend.

 

Ask a friend to go with you at least for the first time that you attend a new event.

 

Remember that friend who talks to people at stop lights?

Ok, maybe you don’t want quite THAT much outgoing-ness….

 

Business People Shaking HandsBut, who do you know already that IS comfortable talking to new people?

Ask a friend to go with you at least for the first time that you attend a new event. That way, they can help you connect with people and you won’t have to face the new crowd all alone. Maybe they have a business they would like to build through networking.

Maybe they would like a nice night out. Maybe they’ll do it as a favor. Whatever the case, you probably know someone who is willing to with you to a new event at least once.

After the initial connections have been made with that group, it should be easier to go to the next event because you will likely already know a few people that you can start with.

Again, the people in the group will probably be happy to introduce you to other networkers they know which will widen your circle of new friends. As time goes on, it should get easier and easier because you will know more and more people.

 

#3 Practice before you go.

 

You are not alone in feeling uncomfortable talking to people you don’t know. Many people struggle with it. And so did I. Until I made a conscious effort to practice and it changed everything!

 

 

Crowd

Growing up in LA where no one has any personal space taught me that it was rude to interrupt people while they were doing something else.

 

 

Even though I’m naturally an outgoing person who makes friends easily, I used to really struggle with talking to people that I don’t know.

I’m from Los Angeles where the streets are overcrowded with rushing, busy people who have no space to themselves. Usually people walking around Los Angeles are on a mission; in a hurry and wearing headphones. Growing up in this environment taught me that people don’t like to be bothered when they are out.

Now there are definitely people in LA who are totally comfortable talking to strangers. And there are some people who would welcome being addressed by someone they don’t know. But that is not what I decided in my own mind.

I decided that it was rude to interrupt people while they were clearly doing something else.

So, I never really did it.

 

When I moved to Tucson, I brought that mentality with me.  I loved it when people I didn’t know would start conversations with me. I really enjoy getting to know new people. But I still felt highly uncomfortable being the one to initiate conversations with people.

At one point, I decided that I wanted to change this. I wanted to be able to talk to people while I was out and start making new friends.

What I did in order to overcome my fear of talking to new people is what I recommend that you do if this is a problem for you.

 

I started small.

guinea-pig-smooth-hair-silver-black-and-white-agouti-medium

 

Every time I went out in public, I would find someone near me who I could genuinely compliment.

Every time I needed to go out in public, whether it was to the grocery store, a mall, or a coffee shop, I would find someone near me who I could genuinely compliment.Maybe I really liked something they were wearing. Or maybe they had an adorable child or a cute animal with them. Whatever it was that I sincerely liked, I would simply say, “Excuse me…” and compliment them.

“Excuse me, I love that necklace you’re wearing!”

 

Compliment

Sometimes the other person would respond enthusiastically and a conversation would start. Other times, people would say “Thank you” and keep moving.

But I had no expectation that there would be any further conversation. That would have put too much pressure on me. I simply wanted to get over the fear of talking to a person I didn’t know.

 

After a while, it got easier. I found myself able to ask people questions about things – like the book they were carrying or an expression they had on their face.  It didn’t happen over night. But it DID happen.

And now, I’m much more comfortable talking to people I don’t know.

This has helped me tremendously with my networking. And I even made a few new friends while I was out and about during my day.

 

Try it out. I bet you anything it’ll help. 🙂

 

#4 Know what you’re walking into.

 

Knowing what to expect in advance can help relieve some of the nerves of going to an event for the first time.

 

The first thing you wanna know is, what type of event it is.

 

There are two major types of networking events: Formal Networking Groups and Mixers

 

Formal Networking Groups

People at TablesFormal networking groups usually meet on a regular basis and have a set schedule for each meeting.

The attendees will often know each other well, which means making one contact can often get you connected to several people in the room.The set program for these events usually includes a time-period for marketing messages (elevator pitches or 30 second commercials).

This means you will want to have something prepared for this section of the meeting. You can learn more about effective marketing messages in my blog post How To Do An Effective 30-Second “Commercial”

 

In addition to marketing messages, there is often time set aside for testimonials. This is the section where you will get to hear about the value that others in the room create for their customers. It’ll help you get to know more about the kinds of services and products that people provide.

 

Use this time to notice people that you would like to connect to.

 

Maybe they have a product or service that you could use.

Or possibly their customers may be the same people you help, only with a different product or service. These are great people for you to know as you can potentially refer a lot of people to each other.

If you decide to continue participating in this group, you will want to get good at giving testimonials that actually help people get customers and referrals. I have provided a video tutorial here.

 

Mixers

 

A mixer is a business social event often held in the evening in bars or restaurants.

 

businesspeoplenetworkingIt’s a much more casual networking experience. There’s no set format. No marketing messages or testimonial section. People just mill around and get to know each other.

There won’t be an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to the group as a whole. And you won’t get the chance to hear what everyone does.

The only way you’ll get that information is by talking to them one-on-one. So get ready for that.

 

In this setting, you’re definitely gonna find groups of people in conversations and will need to use the first 3 tips we talked about in order to make connections with people.

 

Before you go, find out if it’s a formal networking group or a mixer.

 

When you know what kind of event it is, you’ll be able to determine how best to prepare yourself. Take some time and get as much information about the event as you can. Your nerves will thank you 🙂

 

So, now you’re equipped. Use these tips to take the edge off of meeting new people at events. And soon, you’ll be approaching people you don’t know like a pro!

 

Networking is too valuable of an opportunity to miss out on. So don’t let your nerves stop you from benefitting. Try out some of these ways to overcome your shyness or fear. It’ll help you expand your business AND it’ll help you grow as a person as well.

One Woman Revolution [A Poem]

One Woman Revolution [A Poem]

One Woman Revolution

 

 

I wrote this poem years ago. I honestly don’t remember what inspired me to write it. But every once in a while, I look back at it and reflect….

I think to myself,

 

“I have it in me to start a revolution!”

 

A tiny pebble dropped into a lake can create ripples that extend far beyond it’s tiny size. It doesn’t matter the how simple or easy the action may seem. What matters is the ripples it creates. 

 

You never know when something you do will have an impact that goes far beyond what you thought possible. (For a cool story about this click here)

 

What simple thought can you shift? What little action step can you take?

 

What will YOU do today?

 

I challenge you.

 

Go ahead and drop your pebble.

 

The world needs YOU!

 

It needs your products. Your services. Your opportunities. Your service. Your HEART.

 

And it needs them RIGHT NOW!

 

 

Drop your pebble today!

 

Share the step that you will take today in the comments below.

 

Claim it.

 

Share it out into the Universe.

 

Let us support you.

 

You WILL make a difference!

 

One Woman Revolution

Give and the Blessings Will Come

Give and the Blessings Will Come

Frustrated Man

Entrepreneurs face incredible challenges and obstacles as we give our all to build our dreams.

 

 

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and we wanna just give up and go back to what’s easy, familiar, comfortable. I’ve been there many times. But my vision keeps calling me, reminding me that I have a contribution to make. A unique gift to offer the world. It comes from deep within me and I cannot stop until I have manifested the vision. Sound familiar?

 

Sometimes, just when we need it, we get an unexpected blessing that reminds us why we are doing this work.

 

SmileMaybe a client calls with a surprise “thank you” or a huge win. Maybe someone who has been watching us lets us know they are impressed and to keep going. When these moments happen, it’s like a breath of fresh air. It helps us stand a little taller. Withstand the storm a bit stronger. And keep moving despite the difficulties.

Recently, I got one of these reminders and it came from a very unexpected source.

 

In 2004 I recorded several songs on a CD for an educational program called Full-Circle Learning. The songs were both educational and motivational and were designed to be used as part of the character development portion of the program.

 

FCL Teachers LiberiaI got an email from my dear friend, Teresa Langness, the founder and designer of the Full-Circle Learning program. She just returned from Liberia where there are currently 81 schools using her program and there are 3000 more teachers to be trained in August of this year.

 

 

The teachers who were training to be in the program wanted her to tell me that their favorite song was one that I recorded called Consider This. It’s a beautifully written song with powerful lyrics that address the hardships of war while providing a vision of a world united. As I was listening to this song in preparation for this post, I was overwhelmed with emotion thinking about the many challenges, hardships and disparities that are going on in the world today. This amazing song written by my dear friend, Teresa Langness, is very needed today.

 

Discovering that one of the many songs that I sang for this program had travelled all the way to Liberia and moved the hearts of people in a country where my feet have never touched ground stirred my soul in a profound way.

 

Bliss

I felt inspired, uplifted and incredibly blessed.

 

I actually started my career in education by becoming the Director of the Full-Circle Learning after school program in 1995. I had no track record in education and wasn’t even sure if what I had to give was enough. But I knew I loved kids and decided to go for it. That decision changed my world in ways I could never have imagined.

My son, Kahlil Franklin, was a participant for several years, He even returned after he graduated High School to participate in Alumni events and give back. The program had a profound impact on his life. To this day he still loves working with kids and youth. Full-Circle Learning made him a more compassionate man, a more loving big brother and now an incredibly gentle father.

 

Kahlil Collage
Full-Circle Learning made my son a more compassionate man, a more loving big brother and now an incredibly gentle father.

 

 

 

Later on I became a member of the Board of Directors and then a Music Teacher when she opened up the first Full-Day school in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles. When I said yes to being the Director of the after school program, I had no idea it would become a more than 10-year relationship. I feel truly blessed to have been able to participate in such a profoundly important program. The contributions I made decades ago are still making a difference today.

Teresa Langness with FCL Student

As amazing as it felt to hear this news, imagine being the one who started this incredible movement in the first place.

 

 

 

Teresa Langness started Full-Circle Learning in 1991 in response to the Los Angeles Riots after the Rodney King incident. King is an African-American man who was beaten by police after a car chase. Regardless of how you feel about that incident or the ones that have occurred recently, it is clear that America has some real work to do. Teresa saw a need and filled it.
Full-Circle Learning has grown from a small after school program in Los Angeles to several full-day schools all over the world. There are programs in Haiti, Liberia, Zambia, Chad, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, S. Africa, China, India, Japan, Tonga, Brazil, Panama and several US States.

 

Liberia-Selflessness1

 

Children from India

 

 

 

Baldwin Hills FCL

 

 

This one woman started a movement that is LITERALLY changing the world!

 

 

These words from the website explain much better than I can what Full Circle Learning is about.

“Full-Circle Learning, a non-profit organization, seeks to develop a generation of people who will see the relationship between self-mastery, human kindness, skills development and the greater social goals of curing disease, preventing war, addressing poverty, advocating equity, and preserving the planet. Its programs offer young people the chance to become the leaders of their generation by each making a unique contribution to a more whole and sustainable society.”

I am humbled to have played a part, however small, in this incredible movement. When Teresa asked me to record songs for the CDs for this program, all I was thinking was that I wanted to support my amazing friend and the work she was doing. I had no idea how far the winds would carry my voice.

So keep doing your work.

Keep creating.

Keep giving.

You have a gift to offer this world.

 

It’s not up to you to determine when, where or how it will all happen. Your job is to keep contributing no matter how small or insignificant it may feel to you.

 

Wind Blowing FlowerWhether you know it or not, your actions are making an impact on the world. Don’t worry about what you feel you don’t have or can’t do. Start with what’s available to you right now. Keep moving. Give what you have to give. You never know where the winds will carry it.

 

 

Take a moment and reflect on a moment when you made a difference. A client who had a breakthrough. Your children or family who felt your support. A friend who you uplifted in a difficult time. Let yourself feel that moment. Remember how amazing it feels when you offer your help and it is received. Let yourself feel the blessings in what you have to give. Share a moment in the comments below.

If you would like to hear more of the music created for this program, click here.

To keep in touch with what Full-Circle Learning is up to, follow them on Facebook.

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