They say to tell if someone is an extrovert vs. an introvert depends on how they answer the following scenario.
You’re invited to a dinner party. What’s your first thought?
If your first reaction is you can’t wait to get there and mingle with the other guests? You’re an extrovert.
If your first reaction is, ugh, do I really have to go? You’re an introvert.
For those who know me, it might surprise you to say I don’t look forward to networking type events. I’m not a total introvert per se. I’m more of an ambivert. A little bit of ex and a little bit of in.
For years I viewed networking as a dirty word. The idea of attending a networking event made my skin crawl. Why? Well, just look at what happens when business people are corralled in an enclosed stable.
They have an agenda.
Going in, the game plan is to meet as many people as possible to see if they’re prospects for their product or service. Period.
When I first began my business about 12 years ago, I did the network circuit. Badly I might add. Going from one event to another to get the word out about who I was, who I worked with, and how I get people to cross the finish line to achieve their endgame.
One of the last networking events I attended was on a cold snowy February morning in Syracuse, NY.
As I entered the main door, I noticed a man dressed in suit and tie. I asked him if this was the location for the networking event and he acknowledged yes it was.
Without missing a beat, he introduced himself and went into a sales pitch about his business.
I stood there in the freezing vestibule, my 6’5″ frame towering over his 5’3″, patiently listening to his pitch. How great he was. How superior his product was to the competition. How many people he’s helped. Dude was a superstar. Ya, right.
Not once did he ask me what I did for a living. That was quite alright in that I had no intention of sharing. He wouldn’t have listened to me any how. He was too busy rubbernecking for his next target.
Over the years I attended networking events for one of several reasons. One, I’d go to support a friend or colleague’s event. For example this one where I danced for charity.
The second reason I’d attend was to see how badly others networked with each other. It’s usually all about seeing how many business cards they can hand out. It looks like they get a commission for each one they leave in the room.
The last reason I go to these events is to hone my skills at being a better networker.
Here is my simple playbook for how to play the networking game.
1) Act like I’m the host of the event.
What is the job of a host or hostess? Make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. Right?
When I show up playing the host, I aim the spotlight on everyone else, making sure I’m doing what I can to make these few hours in this flock the most enjoyable time they’ve ever had.
2) I ask what they’re working on.
Let’s face it. People love talking about themselves. So, I do the coach like thing and give them plenty of space to verbalize their wins, career, challenges, setbacks, goals, etc.
What do they say? Nobody becomes interested in you until you’re interested in them. I’m genuinely engaged with each person I’m with.
My endgame for each event is to make the most positive impression possible. My playbook accomplishes that each and every time.
Let’s get real. It’s unlikely the people I meet will be viable prospects for my business. It happens, but rarely.
So, my objective is to make a good enough impression that the person across from me might introduce me to their circle of influence. It’s what I call the ripple effect. It’s not the person in front of you but who they might know and so on and so on.
Network gurus have high emotional intelligence. They’re mindfully aware of their emotions and triggers. They have a keen sense of the behaviors of the strangers they meet. Finally they know how to flex their style to have the best communication with people at the event.
If you hate networking events, give my playbook some game time and see what happens. Who knows. You might end up loving networking events in the process.