pujajavalagi

"Five Top Ways of Avoiding Conversation at a Networking Event"

Blog Post created by pujajavalagi Advocate on Jul 19, 2016

I came across this article after having attended numerous networking events, but I wish I had seen this before! This piece calls attention all those men and women (myself included) who go to networking events and don't use their time to their full potential. Let this be a wake up call!

 

Here are 5 Tactics to Avoid Conversation:

 

Tactic #1:  Pretending to be Super Busy

You walk into a networking event, determined to meet a few contacts and build up your Rolodex.  But then it hits you: this is a pretty intimidating context!   You see everyone else succeeding in their efforts to schmooze, and you feel intimidated – maybe even anxious. But you also don’t want to look like a fool sitting on the side talking to no one.  So, you do what many of us in a situation like this:  You pick up your smart phone and pretend to get busy - the logic being that if you’re on your phone at time like this, it must be important... and, perhaps more importantly, you must be an important person.

You walk into a networking event, determined to meet a few contacts and build up your Rolodex.  But then it hits you: this is a pretty intimidating context!   You see everyone else succeeding in their efforts to schmooze, and you feel intimidated – maybe even anxious. But you also don’t want to look like a fool sitting on the side talking to no one.  So, you do what many of us in a situation like this:  You pick up your smart phone and pretend to get busy - the logic being that if you’re on your phone at time like this, it must be important... and, perhaps more importantly, you must be an important person.

Tactic #2:  Clinging to People You Came With

At most networking events you typically have one of two choices: talk with the people you know, or get up the courage to talk with strangers.  Despite the obvious rationalstrategy of using your time to meet new people, many people - me included -  cling to people they already know, saving them from the awkwardness of chit chat with strangers, but missing out on a potentially valuable opportunity to step outside their comfort zones.

Tactic #3: Becoming a Sudden Gourmet

You may not have been hungry before, but if it's a choice of starting up a conversation with a stranger or scrutinizing that cheese plate one last time, many of us go for the cheese plate... or the sushi station... or the dessert bar... or all of the above.  And before you know it you will have shaved precious time off the event -- and perhaps gained a few additional pounds in the process.

Tactic #4: Becoming Super-Interested in Your Surroundings

When all else fails, imagine whatever room you're in is a museum, and become an extremely interested visitor.  And if you look around a room – really virtually any room – you’ll find plenty of things to look at.  It could be photos of a company’s founders.  Or at a non-profit, a “donation wall” with hundreds of names you can take the time to scrutinize. Whatever the location, you can play the game of looking around as a great way to avoid awkward socializing.

Tactic #5: Standing in Line for the Bathroom

And then, finally, there's the old standby: standing in line at the bathroom. Now this tactic isn’t a strategy you typically want to use multiple times.  Once is fine; twice is acceptable; but when you get to three or four times, you're pushing it... and it's probably time to try out another strategy - or, heaven forbid, actually strike up a conversation with someone!

There’s no doubt about it: networking is stressful for many people, and avoidance is more common than you probably think. But by looking in the mirror, and taking that leap into the unknown, you can find a way to step outside your comfort zone, start having these important conversations, and move towards a more positive professional future.

Have you ever avoided conversation at a networking event?   Or have you found a way to overcome your fears?

Source: Andy Molinsky, LinkedIn, July 17, 2016

Outcomes