working the crowd

If you’re like most people, you’ve found yourself at least once in a social situation where you really didn’t know anybody. While some people thrive in these types of situations, most of us experience anything from mild discomfort to great anxiety.

How to break the ice

What do you do? How do you meet people? How do you break the ice? It can be a particularly daunting experience if you’re shy or normally uncomfortable in social situations. If that’s you, the next time you’re out at that social function – that fundraiser, the distant cousin’s wedding, a networking event, etc. – try this:

Appear confident and relaxed. Wear clothes that give you confidence. Be careful of your body language. Head up. Shoulders back. Back straight. Relaxed face. Slowly turn your head back and forth observing the room and the people, as a land baron would survey his land.

Look for a group of acquaintances

Slowly walk around the room and make eye contact with people. Smile as if you own the place. Select a target group of people. Find a group of people who appear to be acquaintances, but not necessarily best friends or close family with each other. They are the most likely to give a warm reception to a new person.

Go to the group and stand with them discreetly. Stand back about a half step from the circle and listen carefully. Wait for someone to turn and notice you, then smile and say something casual like, “Hi, I’m just trying to meet some new people in the room”. In 99% of the cases, people will smile and begin to introduce themselves.

Make a point to remember the names of the people you are introduced to and repeat them. i.e. “It’s great to meet you Nancy”.

Continue listening to the conversation. Don’t try to interject – allow people to get comfortable with you.

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Listen and wait

Eventually someone will ask about who you are and what you do. Be warm and concise – no more than 20 seconds. Follow up your description of yourself with a positive comment about one of the individuals in the group or something they have said, e.g. “I can’t get over that story you said about that deer, Ralph. We never see them around where we live”. This now officially places you into the conversation in a positive and easy manner.

Executing this meet-and-greet concept might seem very intimidating at first, but you’ll be astounded how quickly you can become comfortable with it. All you’ll have to do is to try it once or twice at an event and it will become second nature.

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