Do you find the idea of walking into a room of strangers stressful? Have you ever been invited to a business meeting or workshop, walked in alone, and only see “groups” of people gathered together talking? What do you do?
If you have, you are not the only one. Breaking into a circle of peers can cause heart palpitations and sweaty palms. Although there is no short and definite answer for “what to do,” there are some tips that may help you.
Stick to the facts:
When talking to a business peer for the first time, state just the facts. Your name, your company name, years in business, and what brought you there. By sticking to the facts, you avoid the possibility of stumbling over your words or saying something that would come out wrong.
How to break into that circle:
If there are refreshments or light snack table, help yourself and you just may find someone at the table (normally alone) doing the same thing and now it has become a one-to-one situation rather than you and a group. Introduce yourself and explain your nervousness – no one can ever fault you for being human and honest. “Hello, my name is Joe from ABC Company. This is my first time here and I must admit I am a bit nervous as I don’t know anyone. Are you able to introduce me?”
One of three things could happen. 1) They state that they are nervous too and don’t know anyone and the two of you have now found a common interest – the rest of the conversation will be easier now. 2) They
will say “Gladly” and take you to their peers and introduce you or 3) They will say “No”.
The third option is only there as it is a possibility that someone would say “No”, but in a networking setting it IS NOT going to happen as this is why people attend – to talk and to meet people. If you are the fresh face, they do want to meet and talk to you. If there is not a refreshment table or no one is there to talk to, it is accepted to walk up to a group of people talking – this is networking and this is why everyone else is there at the meeting or workshop.
If the conversation stops as you break that circle – remember the “Stick to the facts”. “I’m sorry to interrupt, this is my first time at this type of event. My name is Joe from ABC Company. Please continue on with
your conversation”. Chances are if they do continue, they will ask you about your business right after – because like stated before this is NETWORKING. Or they may say “Oh no Joe, please tell us about your
business, that is why we are here”.