December 5, 2009

The exchange went from a purely intellectual discussion of whether I was being mean by constantly calling a friend’s child a boy when it’s really a girl, all the way to if a cat’s brain was the size of a piece of macaroni.


Not the greatest conversation of all time, but it was certainly something fun. That’s what happens when a person (me) stops talking long enough to listen and then respond back.

This newish model – I’ve actually been listening well for about 18 years…before that I was an idiot – allows people to actually have a conversation. And THAT is really what I’m getting to in today’s post.

When you’re out and about with people, how hard do you listen?

Unfortunately, many of us already have ideas in our heads about people. Our minds are clamped shut on the drivers in other people’s lives. Making our judgements based on clothing, speaking cadence, amount of hair, funky eye glasses, fancy gadgets or even punctuality gets us into trouble.

Last night I went to Sarah Merion’s bash at Eastern Standard in Boston. There were scads of people there and today I’m kicking myself for not doing the traditional business card exchange with more of them.

Most attendees I follow on Twitter already, but in trying to delve deeper and really know people I should have found out about their work, their vision for the future, their favorite car, whether they think it’s the elephant or the alligator that has a brain the size of a walnut, and more.

It’s stuff that makes people pop off the page. It’s their persona. And that’s what we should all target when saying hello.

My goal is to meet one new person every time I go to an event. To break out of the fishbowl and really talk with some others. What’s your driver? What do you do?

Are you the dasher? Jump into the party, say hi to the host and run off into the night?

Are you the mingler? Working the room perfectly and getting some cool knowledge from everyone there?

Or do you hug the corner…or worse yet corner some unsuspecting folks with your blather?

Shake it up a little. If you never dash in and out, try it. You’ll become more mysterious. If you’re in the corner, break out and work the crowd. If you’re already mingling, stay focused on one person for 11, 15, 20 minutes instead of breaking away when another arrival catches your eye.

It’s just an experiment, but networking isn’t supposed to be actual working. It’s, in my eyes, a time to forge some relationships and learn about people.

Who knows? If the convos you’re sharing are fun and interesting, some people might actually be inclined to forge a relationship with you.

More to come…