Meeting new people

I had a great time at The Entrepeneur Roadshow in Basingstoke last week and it was certainly a busy networking week for me as I also attended a Hampshire Chamber of Commerce meeting, so I caught up with lots of people I knew and made many new contacts.

It is very tempting when networking simply to gravitate toward the people you know already but it is vital that you get to know new people as well, but how do you start a conversation with a group of people you have never met before?

First of all remember that everyone at a networking meeting is there to meet new people and one of the easiest places to start a conversation is at the tea/coffee – indeed if you have trouble working out how to operate the tea dispenser (as I did this week!) a conversation becomes inevitable.

The easiest way to start a conversation is simply to be direct “Hello I’m Mel; I don’t think we’ve met before?” Also this is one situation where no one minds the obvious – so start off by talking about the weather, the roadworks (I went through three sets on my journey to the HCC meeting on Tuesday) or ask them if they have been to this event before. Indeed chatting to people about networking events at a networking event is a really good icebreaker.

Above all, remember to smile!

However thinking about how to approach new people yourself is only one part of the story – equally important is that if someone comes over to your group and looks like they want to join in please don’t do what has happened to me in the past: look horrified and all take a step in and make an even tighter circle. Smile, say hello and include them – who knows who they might be. One of the new people I met this week had come specifically to the meeting to talk to me about advertising in my magazines.

So at this month’s Coffee and Connect why not make it an objective to go and introduce yourself to someone you haven’t spoken to before …and you can always reward yourself with a chocolate oreo! (Yes – there wil be chocolates at this month’s meetings.)

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