Leaving the house today? Why not attract new business while you’re out? Mingling is not just for events. It is an around the clock anywhere activity. Say you are going to pick up dinner for the family? make it a goal to meet someone new. At the coffee shop alone? introduce yourself and make a new connection. Mingling can help increase business, build trust, maintain and create new relationships, keep you at the top of your game, and not to mention it’s fun! The secret to effectively mingling is tied to a series of steps that you must follow in order to be successful. You must expand your circle. Introduce yourself to new people, and try to stand out in a positive way.

The Formula Of Mingling
The formula of mingling can enhance your professional persona and help you master networking. Pick one step of the formula and practice, practice, practice. Once you feel that this step has been perfected, move on to another step. Remember what your main goal is when attending any trade show or event, to gain prospects.

Strike up A Conversation– Make an observation, walk up and ask “is it cold in here? or is it just me?” or “who thinks the music is a little loud?” Initiate the conversation, tell someone you like their jewelry or their tie, then introduce yourself and follow up with light and simple conversation. Some great ways you can keep the conversation going is to expand, and compare, for example “ that sounds really fun, what else did you do?” “this sounds so similar to..” or “where did that happen?” You should also test the waters with your new acquaintance. If they seem standoffish and make little to no eye contact they may not be as into meeting you as much as you are into meeting them and it’s time to move on.

Create A Bond– When at a company or community event you are surrounded by other people who share your same interests and creating a bond is often easy to do with like minded people but at times it can still be challenging. Brainstorm what your favorite topics are or some positive breaking news stories. If you live in a state that is known for a specific sport that may be a safe way of creating a bond. You could say “what about those Cats?” Also, pay attention to invitations that they may send out so you can be sure to quickly join in.

Exchange Contact Information– Once the bond is established and you feel comfortable enough you should ask the person for their contact information. This is the main dish, what you have been waiting for, and why you came to mingle in the first place. You could say “hey I have really enjoyed talking to you can I get your business card or contact information” Simple as that.

Exit Conversation- This step can get kind of awkward if not handled correctly. When I was in college, I was asked by my boss to join a company “meet and greet” with other similar businesses. My goal was to make as many connections as possible. I was preparing to graduate and any door I could open I wanted to. I paraded my way around the room until I felt comfortable enough to introduce myself to the other representatives. Once I had started a conversation I realized I had no idea how to close it. Do I exit with a handshake? Is that too manly? Do I tell them I have to go to the ladies room? I was lost, and I ended up talking to those same six people all night. Not a successful night.
When in this type of situation simply be respectful and excuse yourself from the conversation. Respect the time you have allotted for the night and move on after five or ten minutes. Having a few exit lines up your sleeve may help you in these sticky situations and will help you say goodbye in a positive manner. Try “it was great talking to you, I hope we meet again,” or just be honest and say “you are great and I hope I make it back around to you before the end of the night, but I need to make my rounds and visit some others.” If these don’t work you can always grab some poor shmuck and stick him in the conversation while you make a smooth getaway.

Repeat– Once all steps have been completed you start again.

So ask yourself, are you following the formula for mingling? Do you initiate conversations? Is your body language inviting? Do you remember to ask for contact information? By following this formula correctly, often you will gain more business, create new business opportunities, and build new and valuable relationships.

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