For Allyson, who asked for networking advice.
START WITH AN INSURANCE POLICY.
You have a meetup? Great! Go with somebody else. It’s better if you like the person, because then the absolute worst case scenario is that you talk to them and have a good time. That’s seriously the backup, and it’s a great position to be in. When you hang out with people that make you laugh, every addition to your circle becomes a bonus.
If you see somebody just standing alone, turn to them and ask, “would you like to join the conversation?” Because it is a networking event, there is absolutely no chance that they will say no. ZERO. In addition, everyone else will notice that you are outgoing, friendly, the hub of an expanding social network, and probably somebody that they would want to know. Add people every chance you get, and within a few minutes, your circle will have grown so large that you and your friend can split it up and take control of different conversations. That is a good thing, because then you can focus on the people that you are interested in. Again, worst case scenario, you turn back to your friend and have a good time.
Do not try to impress other people by bragging about your own exploits and abilities. Instead, introduce your friend as the incredible person he or she is, or talk up the other people you meet, and make sure that your friend knows to do the same for you. This makes you both look far better than if you were to brag about yourselves in the first person, and secondly, anybody you talk to go feel like they are talking to the most important people in the room because they are talking to you, the person who is confident enough to make other people look good.
Ask. For. Their. Number. Or card. Or use your phones to connect on LinkedIn at the event. Don’t say “I’d love to stay in touch with you.” Offer them something of value for connecting to you: “I’d love to put you in touch with my friend at a seed capital firm in New York,” say, or, “The woman I mentioned earlier, the one who started eight million-dollar companies in eight years – I think you two might find something to talk about. Let’s get lunch?” or “I’d really love to check out your products – do you have a card?” Again, this is a networking event, and it’s for professionals, and they want to connect with other people. They WANT to keep in touch with you, but they might not be comfortable asking. Just do it yourself. Ask.