TLDR: Approach other single minglers, introduce yourself and feed them questions.
How to put the intro into introvert
You’ve just been invited to a meetup and as great as the free food and drink is, your inner introvert begins to sweat profusely…
Keep it simple!
Don’t over think it.
Grab a drink and take a deep breath. Let’s run through some strategies you can use to make this your best meetup yet!
We recommend setting a small but achievable goal, such as aiming to meet one new person.
Target one person
Before the event starts, mingle! Take the opportunity to find 1-2 people you’ve never spoken with, and meet and chat with new faces. The benefit of doing this before the event starts is that everybody is (mostly) on equal footing — the social circles haven’t formed yet, people are still trying to work out where the pizza and wine is 🙂
If you’re finding it difficult, target one person in the jungle of minglers (especially those who also look lost!), go up to them and initiate a conversation. Introduce yourself and then feed them questions. If you can’t find an obvious prey, target the stragglers in the pack — the other people who are on their own and not talking to anybody.
Ok, so you’ve found your target. How to actually engage with them? Here’s some ideas for openers to get you started:
- “What brings you here?”
- “How did you come across this event?”
- “Is this your first time coming to this event?”
- “Have you heard this speaker before?”
- “Are you also in this industry?”
- “How many from your group are attending?”
Don’t forget to exchange names early — there’s nothing worse than getting knee-deep into a conversation and having to back-track to basic introductions.
From here, take advantage of the fact that people love talking about themselves. Ask them questions about what they do, and don’t monopolise the conversation (you’re talking with someone, not to someone).
Be inclusive! If there are people nearby who look lost, bring them into the conversation! There’s a few reasons for this — not only will it mean you aren’t the only one carrying the burden of continuing the conversation, but it will elevate you in the eyes of the person, as you’ve just saved them all the hassle of working out how to engage with new people. Also, having a 3rd person in the group, frees you up to leave, and find new targets (or… go get snacks).
Follow up to seal the deal
Hopefully, by the end of the night, you’ve made some new connections. Make sure you connect with them on LinkedIn the next day and send them a little message (even as simple as “Hey, it was great to meet you at the event last night, hope to see you at the next one!”).
Building up your connections will provide you with an invaluable opportunity to extend yourself professionally and next time you want to go to a networking event, you’ll have people you can ask to come with you, and increase the likelihood that there will be people there who you already know.