Why The Girl Guides and Boy Scouts Were Right, Part 2

When I tell people what I do, one of the first things they often say is,

“I hate going to events on my own!
I’m always too scared to go up and talk to people I don’t know!”.

In last week’s blog, I talked about preparation, and how it can help you with this. Today, we’ll get into specifics.

What (and Who) You Can Research Before An Event

If I know I’m going to meet new people, to calm my nerves, I look them up.

Before most events, you can have access to the names of at least some of the attendees. There will always be a list of speakers. There’s the guest list on Facebook event pages. If the event is sponsored, you can bet that someone from the sponsoring company will be there.

Just spending 30 minutes in advance will give you 6 people that you will have things to say to (5 mins per person for 30 mins = 6) . When you’ve researched someone, you can come up with a couple of questions. Then, when you meet them, you won’t be stuck for things to talk about.

If you look up the speakers, you’ll have something to say to any attendee.
Example: “I’m really looking forward to Danielle LaPorte’s session. Have you read the Desire Map?” [No] “Me neither, but it seems to be about setting your goals based on how you want to feel. What do you think about goal-setting?”

A note: several conferences give you the chance to actually connect with other attendees in advance.

You could also do this off your own back – a short email to say something like, “Hi Gina! I am a health coach who is also coming to the Such-And-Such conference. Your ring-pull business looks really interesting – I’ve always wondered how those work! I’d love to ask you about it. I’ll try and find you on the day and say hello”.
If you say “try”, then no shame-ups if you don’t feel brave enough to – PLUS an excuse to follow up with them afterwards.

To-Do’s and Not To-Do’s (That For The Questions)

Some tips:

  • make sure the questions are open-ended.
    Asking someone a yes or no-answerable question can be a conversation killer
  • try and think of questions that have answers you’re actually interested in. If one person seems to have nothing in common with you, move on to researching someone else OR try and think which of her interests might relate to any of yours
  • you don’t need to tell the person you’re talking to how much research you did about them. While some people will find it flattering, others (who don’t know the excellent pre-networking skills you have) might find it a bit Fatal Attraction. Use your instincts. And maybe don’t mention bunnies. Or opera.
  • it is perfectly ok to ask someone a question that you already have the answer to, as long as she doesn’t know you know it.
    The only exception is if it’s a question that your research and instincts tell you she gets asked a thousand times a day (“But, Kate, how does it feel to be married to a real British Prince?”)


Why Research Helps You To Network
  • It gives you a reason to go up to someone – you have a specific question that you want to ask only them
  • It gives you an automatic fall-back and comfort zone if you run out of things to say
  • Talking about yourself to someone who is genuinely interested in you FEELS GOOD.

If you’re asking specific questions led by your research – as opposed to the same questions everyone else is asking that person – you will show this genuine interest.

If someone feels good about their conversation with you,

they will feel good about YOU

(click on that sentence to share it on twitter!)

As a note, I am not suggesting that you only ever have one-sided conversations. If you can make someone else feel comfortable, they will inevitably eventually start asking you questions about yourself. If they don’t and you haven’t enjoyed talking to them, say, “Well, it was lovely to meet you”*, and move on.
*(this is one area where I do not suggest being genuine. Saying, “It was tedious to meet you, you’re totally self-absorbed and quite boring. I have to step away now, because I can’t stand to be in your dreadful company a second more”, will not do you any long-term favors).


Your Practice Plan

Do you have an event coming up, or know of a conference you might want to attend one day?

Have a practice: go to the event website or facebook page, choose one or two people, and see if you can find anything about them on google. Off the back of your research, think up a couple of questions you might ask that person, if you met them. See if those questions breed more questions.

Over To You

Have you met anyone who is good at asking questions? Can you remember how you felt when you left the conversation? Let me know in the comments below!


You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha


PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Photo Credits: Joybot, Stéfan and -hndrk- via Compfight cc

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field