Working the room – Breaking up is hard

I’m an extrovert.  Extreme.  But even I am daunted by walking into a meet-&-greet room filled with strangers.  Anxious to see a familiar face, my eyes dart hither & yon around the little pre-formed groups. 

Like it or not, this is the life of sales people & job hunters.  I’ve noticed 4 uncomfortable moments:

  • Starting the interaction
  • Breaking off an ongoing conversation
  • Bringing someone new into your conversation
  • Interrupting an ongoing conversation.  I think this is the MOST uncomfortable of those 4 moments, so here are a few pointers: 

First, take a deep breath & realize that people in networking events EXPECT you to break into their conversations.  You’re introducing them to new people (yourself) without them having to interrupt someone else’s conversation.  Some people will be absolutely giddy that you’re rescuing them from the previous conversation. 

Second, breaking into someone else’s conversation takes some guts but it gets easier with practice.  It’s as easy as A-B-C:  

A. Do what you would do if you saw someone you already know.  That is, walk up & catch the eye of one member of the group, then stick out your hand to shake his/her hand.

B.  Say, “Excuse me.  I’m  ____.  May I join your conversation?”  Amazingly creative, huh?  But, as with “Open Sesame,” the group will magically open up to make room for you. 

C.  Sometimes the group is in a meaty conversation when you walk up, so just introduce yourself briefly with your name (no elevator speech at this point) & say, “You looked as if you were in an interesting conversation when I walked up.  Please continue.” 

That’s it.  ABC.   How do YOU approach this topic – & conversational groups in networking events?

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