Manner Monday: Networking and Social Anxiety

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This past June during National Business Etiquette Week I wrote a blog post “Technology vs Talk” where I made the comment “but truly successful people will be those who can TALK and be SOCIAL with other people”.  This comment prompted some emails with questions from a few readers who self-identified themselves as “shy”.  They asked for me to share some tips on overcoming their social anxiety of attending networking functions.

I like to think about networking as an opportunity to make new friends.  Bottom line, people want to do business with friends and people they know – people they trust.  When an opportunity presents itself to meet new people and “network”, even those who are most shy can be successful by asking a few open ended questions and listening.  So often we’re worried about what we are going to say next.  Instead, just listen… and continue to ask questions, you will find that more often than not, the conversation starts to flow and before you know it, you feel as though you are talking with a new friend.

Here are some of my favorite questions to ask:

Business events –

  • How did you become interested in this industry/line of work/organization?
  • What do you like best about what you do?

Fundraisers –

  • How did you become familiar with XYZ organization?
  • What is you favorite thing about XYZ organization?

Social events –

  • How do you know the Host/Hostess?
  • Did you grow up in Oklahoma City?

If you would like to review the previous post on “nametag” tips, please click here.

Please leave a comment below and share what questions you like to use when meeting someone new at a networking event. I would love to know!

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