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Maybe you recognize this scenario?  You’ve signed up to attend a networking or social event. Maybe even a conference. Great! You’ve invested the time, resources, and so on. Now what?

A great way to prep is to take a few moments to set your Vison for what “great” or “success” will look like. Then create some Objectives and Goals on what you want to achieve. Follow that up by setting some Intentions on how you will show up and what you will commit to doing to support your Vision, Objectives, and Goals.

These are very powerful steps!  But there’s more.

How do you achieve all this in such a way that you really stand out from the crowd?  One way is to be the person who takes charge and engages with others to get meaningful and memorable conversations going.

Very few people do this.  I even think it’s becoming fewer and fewer. Many blame the isolation of the pandemic, but the situation has been worsening for years.

But you’re not going to fall into this trap, are you? You’re smart enough to realize that the existence, quality, and frequency of your socialization is your responsibility, no matter what the situation. And you truly want to stand out so you can make new friends and contacts; build connections and exposure your business, product, cause, or organization; enjoy a successful and thriving professional life; and live healthier happier, longer, and more vibrantly.

Being able to socialize well is “The Edge” everyone says they want. (I quote that from a piece in the Wall Street Journal.)  But most people aren’t sure how to achieve it. Or they just don’t bother.

Again, that’s not you.

Here is the process for engaging, broken down into baby steps.

  • Gather your courage and confidence — and consider that getting stuck up in your own head only exacerbates fear and anxiety.
  • Vow to take action!
  • Stroll on up to someone at your event (I usually choose a person standing off to themselves), smile, make friendly eye contact, introduce yourself, extend your hand for a handshake.
  • Ask a question or offer a prompt to get the other person talking about themselves. Some examples:
    • “What made you decide to attend this event?”
    • “What do you hope to learn?”
    • “Who do you hope to meet?”
    • “Tell me a little about you…”
    • “Tell me something interesting about you…”
    • Download this free guide, for more questions.
  • Likely, at some point the other person will ask you a question as well. Simply answer.
  • Ask another question to keep the focus on the other person.

The key to remember is this: by listening well and showing sincere interest in other people, you immediately become the most fascinating, likeable, and memorable person in the room. You can then reinforce this exponentially by doing something else very few people do. You follow up with the person (assuming you’ve gotten their contact information) and offer a few gracious and sincere lines in an email.  As in, “Hello Bob! I enjoyed meeting you and hearing all about [insert whatever the person talked about]. [Add in a few comments to show you were listening or to reveal what most interested you.] If I can ever be of service to you or if you’d like to continue the conversation by phone or over a cup of coffee, please feel free to reach out. Sincerely…”

This is the beginning of true connection!  Is it hard to do?  Not really. You just have to choose to take charge and take action. Then practice, practice, practice.

Begin today, take small steps regularly, and you’re on your way to standing out consistently, even in a very crowded world.

Want to learn more about conversing and connecting with greater authenticity, ease, graciousness, and confidence?  Check out my award-winning books The Intentional Networker and More Than Just Talk: The Essential Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Enjoy Better Conversations.