Every mentor since the dawn of mentorship has told you to get out there and meet people. That is categorically easier said than done. “Nice weather we’re having!” is not going to cut it anymore, and frankly, it probably never did. So what the heck do you say to someone you know can open that next door? How the heck do you say it? Well, we thought you'd never ask darling! Pirouette NYC is here to help.
Let’s assume for the sake of contextual argument that you are at a cocktail party. (Or any kind of party, really.) You're surrounded by a ton of people who could make or break your career. You have met approximately none of them… Ready? Set... Go!
The Icebreaker. Everyone you see at that event is there to meet people too. The only problem is that they don’t know they are here to meet you, and it’s your job to tell them. Here are some ways to do that:
The Compliment. Everyone you meet at an event who looks beautiful put some thought into it. They want someone to notice, and there’s no guarantee that's happened. If you start a conversation with, “I love that ____” it is hard to go wrong. It establishes that you notice details, that you share a common aesthetic, and that you have good taste… just like they do. From there, you can talk about designers, colors, trends, and even sales. They put thought into looking just so, and you are kind enough to notice.
The “I couldn’t help but overhear.” This is a slightly trickier maneuver, but with a little finesse, can be done with aplomb. Perhaps you are just getting a drink at the bar, and the cluster next to you is talking about something you know well. It’s a bold but simple turn to say “I couldn’t help but overhear, but…” If you have something interesting to say, odds are, they will listen. Know your audience. If they are telling an inside joke, this is not your time to shine. However, if they are talking about alternative energy, and you have a PhD or client or interest in exactly that, why not say so? Most people are bored with their usual conversations and are dying for something new to say. Why not help them out?
Fall on Your Sword. It’s universally true that everyone goes to networking events to network. It’s not yet a federal crime to admit it. It takes a little backbone, but you’ll find it effective to simply go up to someone and say “I don’t know a soul here. My name is ____.” You may be saying, “I could never do that?!?!” but the truth is, you can. The other truth is, you should. People will respect your honesty, and most people intrinsically want to befriend the friendless. You know you’re not friendless, but everyone could use an additional friend or two, and that’s how you start.
- The Introduction. Once you’re in with one person at an event, it’s just a matter of time before you know them all, but not if you don’t put in the work. The hardest part is to meet one person. Once you do, it’s much easier to grow your bubble. Once you do, you’re a team, and you can go on a networking expedition. You might say to your brand new friend, “Well, we’re here to meet people – shall we?” Then it’s just a matter of scoping out the next group. After all, when you’re two people, you’re not a solo person barging in, but a group mingling with another group. What could be more natural? Simply say to someone in that new group, “Do you all know everyone here? We’re still getting our sea legs!” It’s an easy feat after that to strike up a conversation and let those dominoes fall.
Feeling better about networking? Connecting comfortably with new people slowly becomes second nature once you practice a bit. Just remember that you automatically put others at ease when you're the first to introduce yourself, and they'll be grateful you did.