I get the opportunity to meet people all the time. It’s one of the best parts of my job. Sometimes, I feel really awkward when I’m meeting other people. I figure that I’m doing it wrong quite often. I’ve been thinking about what one might consider doing and not doing when they meet someone for the first time. I’ve failed at some of these moments myself. I get just as guilty at doing some of this at one point or another. Don’t look at this as me telling you how to meet me. This is me telling you what I’m thinking when I’m given the opportunity to meet someone.
There’s one experience that I observe more often than not when meeting people at events, and it’s a split one. On the one hand, people don’t talk enough about their main point enough for someone to get a read. On the other, people talk WAY too much about themselves and scare people off. It’s pretty tricky to figure out the balance, I’m thinking, when meeting folks. I have some thoughts on it.
Often, when people talk to me, they seem to have the sense that they’ll never ever get the chance to talk with me again, so they work on cramming in everything they’ve ever thought to tell me. They speak as if every word gives them air in their lungs. Have you had that experience? It seems like the person is quite literally going to die if they don’t get out all their thoughts?
I think this is more real than not. I talked to a guy once a few months ago, and I think it was probably the first time in years that anyone ever gave him the time of day. It was cathartic, really, listening to him get his autobiography out into the air. Have you had that one happen to you?
Some Do’s and Dont’s
If it’s you who has the chance to talk to someone else, here are some thoughts about the blend of how you can say “just enough” to get your presence across to someone else. I’d love you to agree or disagree in comments or posts.
- Confidence is EVERYTHING. You are good enough. You are important enough. You are worthy. Everyone is just someone. The biggest names in the world that I’ve met (people like Glenda Watson Hyatt, Ed Shahzade, Jon Swanson) have all been regular people when you get down to it.
- Never ask someone to remember your name. That moment when you re-meet someone and you say, “Do you remember me?,” it’s just a chance of putting someone in a bad spot. I’m actually pretty decent at remembering names (kind of supernaturally so at most points). But when I’m meeting others, I lead with my name. It just takes it off the table.
- Lead with the strongest point you hope to make. If you’re going to say, “I’m here to ask about a business partnership,” then start with that. Most people want to start with soft things like the weather, but in most cases, what’s really important gets buried in trivia. Don’t do it. Believe me.
- The backstory is almost never important. I hear so much exposition explaining the main question or point and it takes paragraphs of language to try to warm up to what ends up being one sentence. Here’s the thing. One sentence is usually enough. And at least, it lets the other person ask, “Can you tell me more?”
- Assume neither of you have lots of time. Try to keep the conversation moving and tight. This one is tricky, and you have to read the signs. Is the person you’re speaking to giving you the “I need to move on” signals? Are their shoulders turned away from you? Are they looking around instead of making deep eye contact? There you have it. Smile politely and make your exit.
- Finish with action. Because you’ve kept it short, because you are letting this person go on to the next thing, your goal now is to decide whether there’s some “there” there. If yes, then move on to business cards and next steps. If no, then be clean and wonderful about it. Just say thanks and pleased to meet you, and move on. Believe me, that’s a great way to move on. I’m definitely fond of NOT moving forward more often than not. It’s the better way to figure out your business.
- Business cards are for continuing business. If you’re done talking, exchanging a business card is great only when you have further business to do. Send your message quickly. Within 24 hours is probably the best way. Do you agree?
Your Mileage Will Vary
Okay, first, all you shy people who have been clenching your jaw while reading this, it’s okay. I get it. I know that it’s a lot easier to do this when you’re not shy. Hint: I’m always shy. I just push really hard to NOT be shy when it’s important.
Second, sometimes, things don’t follow a formula. This is a recipe, but you’re making leftovers sometimes. That’s okay. Do what makes sense in the moment.
Finally, I want to re-stress that this isn’t a post about how to meet me. It’s a post filled with thoughts on what works best in meetings. I’m thrilled and honored when you say hi to me at events. It’s the best part of my job. When I get to meet people (like you), the above is what’s on my mind.
What do you think?