10 People To Avoid Or Connect With At Your Next Networking Event
“Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.” – Unknown
Have you ever wondered how to meet the right people at a networking event?
Having been to many networking events throughout my student and professional life, I find that it can be challenging to connect with the right people. I typically don’t like networking events because it can be intimidating to approach others, the people you come across are not necessarily your “type”, and sometimes you never get around to speaking with the people in the room with whom you might find a great connection, end up potentially collaborating with, or them helping you in a significant way.
Last Tuesday, I went to support some friends who were hosting a networking event to bring together people in the city doing “cool” things. The crowd was a group of like-minded individuals, looking to live to their fullest potential while creating good in the world around them. I felt comfortable at the event, and met some great people over the course of the evening.
When I came home and reflected on the evening, I realized that over half my interactions that evening were not that valuable, and that what made the evening great were the meaningful connections I made.
Thinking about how I made these connections, I realized that it comes down to knowing who to look for and who to avoid.
Being aware of the personalities that exist at networking events helps me better assess others, spend only as much time as needed in conversations, and ensure that I am having as many meaningful conversations and connections as possible.
Here is my list of 10 networking personalities to avoid or connect with at your next event:
1. The jack-in-a-box – This person surprises you, interrupts, and pops into the conversation. They don’t introduce themselves, become a part of your conversation without consent or regard to the possible sensitivity of the topic, and try to pick up what is happening. My way to handle this person is to acknowledge their presence, welcome them, introduce myself and the other person I am speaking with, and then continue the conversation.
2. The pick-up – This person swoops into your conversation, interrupts you or the person you’re speaking with, in order to chat with the person you’re speaking with. They tend to be close talkers, can come across as flirtatious, and typically leave both you and the person you’re speaking with rather uncomfortable. My way to handle this is to welcome them into the conversation if possible, physically move to another part of the room with the person I’m speaking with, or ask them to kindly leave by mentioning that it is a personal topic we were discussing.
3. The Terminator – This person has impeccable posture, walks only in straight lines, and tends to have a stern look on their face the entire night. As they walk by you, they scan you from top to bottom as they pass you by, and usually, don’t even talk to you. They are likely judging you based on what you’re wearing, or what they think you’re like. My way to handle this type is simply to smile at them, and keep walking.
4. The Bourgois – A networking event isn’t complete without the elite right? These are the fancy, extremely-well-dressed-for-the-occasion people who tend to talk to each other the entire night. As you pass by, you may overhear their sophisticated conversation, the occasional bantering about how their lives are not perfect, and the passing of judgment on the attire of others. My way to handle them is to try to connect with the rare, yet possible to find, one among them who is down-to-earth.
5. The “Hey, What do you do?” person – This person also likes to interrupt conversations, but is most notoriously known to start every conversation with “Hey, What do you do?”. As you introduce yourself and answer their question, they seemingly temporarily shows interest in your work, only to then pitch you their business or product. Regardless of whether you are in their industry or are even remotely interested, this will happen. If you are not a potential client, they then tend to abruptly escape from the conversation and move on to another potential “customer”. My way to handle them is to keep my answer to “What I do” short, find out their intentions, and keep the conversation as brief as possible.
To connect with:
6. The “Newby” – This is the person who might be relatively new to town or is a student who is attending an event outside the university environment, is stepping outside their comfort zone, and is putting themselves out there by attending the event to meet good people. Inherent qualities of this personality are that they are genuine, like a sense of community, and are confident. They tend to believe in fostering meaningful connections with others, are attending the event with the sole intention of making friends; not with any other ulterior personal/business motivations. They also tend to need help with something, whether it is making friends in the city or balancing an aspect of their lives. This person is your opportunity to give back, help them, and pay it forward. We’ve all had someone who has helped mentor us, inspire us, or guide us along the way. Helping this person at the networking event will leave them incredibly grateful, and you’ll go to bed feeling warm and fuzzy, knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life that day.
7. The “Connector” – This person knows everyone at the event, tends to have a high profile, and yet, is extremely humble and genuine in their willingness to help others. They are the one who you meet during the evening, and who later in the evening, introduce you to someone and say “Hey, you two should know each other”. Finding this person is usually like hitting the lottery; they walk their talk, live their values of connection and collaboration, and selflessly serve others. Whether they are the organizer, keynote speaker, or just a friendly soul, be sure to find the connector in the room and befriend them.
8. The “True friend” – This is the person you find with whom you connect on a deeper level. Your values align, you have a long conversation sharing your stories and struggles, and end up hugging goodbye at the end of the night. You share your vulnerable story of what got you to this point, and they listen to yours, and you immediately feel as if you really know one another. I truly believe that every day as well as every networking event, is the possibility to create a new friend and form a special connection. Even at a networking event, making friends is the true goal, as these are the people who will help you down the line.
9. The “Superstar” – This is the person who has accomplished incredibly inspiring things, often in the span of a short period of time. They inspire you to no end, share their story with you, and continue to chase their dreams right now. Their story usually involves a conflict or crisis, some wisdom which emerges, and a new outlook or perspective which they have gathered. Hearing their story, and making this connection makes my evening worthwhile, and often, I end up gravitating towards and spending more time around these types of people after the networking event.
10. The “Emerging Leader” – This is the person who is at your stage of personal development, is like-minded, and is passionate about what they do. They are ambitious, have accomplished some amazing things, but continue to challenge their potential and are working towards achieving their big goals. This person is great to connect with because they become friends you will meet for coffee, collaborate with, and you’ll continue to support one another and inspire to be great. Meeting people like this reminds me that there are people out there doing great things, keeps me motivated towards my goals, and reinforces my belief that anything is possible.
This list is by no means exhaustive or complete. Nor is it meant to put down one style over another. It is just a first attempt at sharing some of the things that help me at networking events to find the right people for me to connect with, and is strictly subjective. In some way, I hope this list of the personalities that exist at networking events also helps you effectively deal with others, get out of conversations that are not valuable, and spend more time making meaningful connections; as that is my ultimate goal. Please comment and share.