Next week’s Networking Challenge is quickly approaching. I wanted to set the parameters around what I consider to be a great networking event vs a mediocre one. I tend to start off as an observer. When I enter a room I am looking to see who looks most approachable. The approachable person usually has a happy disposition and is already engaged in a conversation. If the person is not engaged in conversation they at least smile or nod at your presence. If I walk into an event and everyone is cold or reserved my time will be limited at that particular event.
Beyond what I can see, I’m scanning the room for a feeling. The subtleness of what surrounds me. Everyone has had this feeling at least once, where you walk into a room and it just don’t feel right. You can’t verbalize why it doesn’t feel right but ‘something’ tells you to leave or you feel uncomfortable enough to leave. The ‘something’ is your inner voice or intuition. It’s what you can’t see but naturally guides you if you listen. The act of listening is what I call attunement.
Attunement requires you to check in with your body. That can be done by a simple body scan. A body scan is where you notice how your face feels, then you move on to your neck, shoulders, on and on, down to your feet. As you scan you might want to ask yourself a few questions. Take the shoulders for example, we tend to hold tension in our shoulders so ask yourself the following questions. Do your shoulders feel tight? Did the tightness take form once you entered the room? Is it ok for your to relax and enjoy the moment? Our bodies will give us the clues. Or you might notice that you naturally get uptight when you are around strangers so the awareness of how your body feels can make you relax. The awareness alone can also help you resolve a fear or anixety that you no longer need.
Next do an emotion check. Do you feel happy, sad, angry, etc? Does the event seem like it will be pleasurable or worth your time? Do the people in the room look angry, sad or happy? Does the audience seem engaged? There are times when the mood of the room can change your mood. If you spend a few moments doing a body scan it will help you gauge the room.
After I check the pulse of the room I am ready to network. It only takes me about ten minutes to make my assessment. I also check the pulse throughout the event. If the energy of the room shift then I can make a decision on what to do next. Many things can create a shift including arrival of more attendees, someone makes an offensive comment, people start to get bored, temperate of the room gets uncomfortable or someone you felt connected to left the event.
Below is my list of top five characteristics of any event that need to be in place in order for me to have a successful experience.
- Warm and talkative host/hostess who consciously work to make attendees to feel welcomed and included. The host will usually greet you as soon as you walk in the door or at least make their way to you within the first thirty minutes. The person will do a quick introduction and ask for you to do the same.
- More than one host/hostess. The additional hosts tend to be floaters who continuously break the ice and work the crowd pass any awkward pauses or transition between activities.
- Creative icebreakers that engage the audience. I love ice breakers that force you to have at least one intimate session with another attendee. Mastermind themed ice breakers are also very good.
- Interesting speaker with a relatable story. Everyone has a story but not everyone is a good storyteller. I like to walk away knowing that I can keep pressing forward as a result of the speakers authenticity and transparency. I want to feel inspired by the speakers journey and words.
- Connection with other attendees. I am more focused on quality so if I make one strong connection then it was time well spent. Usually there is a common theme or bond to link you with the person. You can see the person as someone you wouldn’t mind being friends with in real life. You exchange information and/or agree to contact each other outside of the event.
Networking is a great opportunity to meet new people and make future business connections. Not all experiences will be positive but the hope is that the great ones outweigh the mediocre ones. Join me next week as I detail my experiences in the land of networking for the attuned.
Peace and Blessing