Many people are uncomfortable mingling during a networking event. We are often worried about what people will think of us. The easiest way to get around that is to put your focus on them. How? First of all, look for people who appear somewhat lonely, standing by themselves. They will appreciate you coming up to them asking what brings them to the event, etc. This helps get conversations going before you walk up to groups of people who might be engaged in a conversation. It is easier to enter a group when someone leaves and you can enter in comfortably. These tips will also help:
- People approach when your back is to light, such as standing in front of a window during the daytime
- Keep your posture erect, arms and fingers open, with a friendly smile that invites conversation
- Always hold your beverage in “left” hand to avoid wet and clammy handshake
The concept of interaction zones is used to illustrate individuals’ preferred zones of physical closeness during communication and interactions. Commonly defined as:
- Public space: 7 or more feet (where you want your grocery cart, space between you and the next one in the bathroom stall, an empty seat next to you in the theater)
- Social: 3-6 feet (you’re part of a group but you don’t have to yell to be heard, you’re part of the inner circle)
- Personal: 1-2 feet, for more private conversations, closer interactions
- Intimate: 0-1 foot (not for business conversations)Remember, the best conversationalists are the ones with the best “listening” skills!
- Research indicates that group performance is enhanced at closer, face-to-face distances of approximately 18 inches. However, it’s important to note that this is too close for comfort for some individuals. Generally speaking, men tend to prefer greater distances in communication than women are comfortable with.
Smile, be open and engaging, ask questions, and be helpful referring others you know who could benefit the one you are speaking with. They will appreciate it and seek you out for a long-lasting relationship.