While attending several events over the last few months I absorbed some powerful lessons about socializing and networking. And ironically the lessons were taught to me by the introverts in the room — or as a by-product of my own occasional introverted tendencies.
One lesson came in the form of a question: When interacting with others, are you in conversation –real conversation that allows you to connect? Or are you just engaged in mindless chatter?
One introvert I conversed with at a networking luncheon told me she enjoys attending events and listening to good speakers. But because of her “social sensitivity” (my term, not hers), she prefers to stand on the fringe of the crowd until it’s time to be seated. She enjoys people-watching and observing from afar. The shrill chatter, not so much. What’s more, by standing alone she finds she is “open” in case anyone comes over to talk to her one-on-one. I saw sensibility in her strategy. In fact, I happened to be the person who approached her that day and I am glad I did. We had a lovely conversation. Turns out she is an author who writes on a subject that I find inspiring: strong, fearless women. What a gift she was in my day. And I can’t wait to read her books.
At another event I walked into the room and didn’t know a soul. Furthermore, I noticed everyone was engaged in one-on-one conversation or clumped up in closed groups. Sigh. I was feeling rather awkward until I spotted a young woman off by herself. I went over and introduced myself. She was initially shy and anxious, but after she realized I wasn’t trying to put her on the spot (or sell her anything) she opened up. It was another delightful conversation. She told me about her education and career path – not a smooth or straight one, but one filled with clear epiphanies. For a woman in her 20s, she was extremely self-actualized; an “old soul.” How refreshing it was. I’m glad I met her, too.
Finally, at a workshop I attended solo over the weekend, I was feeling introspective. I made a point to greet a few people I knew, but I chose mindfully to go off in my own direction to find a good seat where I could view and hear the speaker easily and without distraction. In a few moments a lovely woman sat down nearby. After a moment or two I recognized her and she me. Turns out she was someone I had met a few years ago and had wanted to get to know better. The chance had not presented itself — until then. And here we were in a setting where we could really converse and connect – even work together on the group exercises. A miracle? Perhaps.
All I know is that stepping away from the crowd, honoring my own sometimes-introverted self, choosing conversation over chatter, and setting my intentions helped me attract these synchronistic connections very easily. What about you?
Next time you attend a group event, will you be there to chatter? Or converse and connect? Will you choose to be swept into the crowd? Or will you be willing to pull away, venture out into “space,” and find true conversation and connection?
If you need a little guidance on becoming a more Intentional Networker(tm), which can help transform everyday chatter into more meaningful conversations and connections, I have a gift for you. Three easy questions to ask yourself before you go to any social event: 1) What’s your Vision for the experience? In other words, what would “success” look like, sound like and feel like for you? 2) What are your Intentions? In other words, what choices are you doing to make as you prepare yourself and as you attend and experience the event? 3) What are your goals? What specific, measurable outcomes do you have in mind? Meeting five new people? Learning three new things you can take back to your business or office? Try this out and see if you don’t enjoy the event more, but also get more out of it. And don’t forget to get (and read) my award-winning success guide The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business. You’ll find it at most online book retailers and at BookPeople in Austin, TX.