Tip: At events, find people more shy than you

A friend of mine will be attending her first social media event this Friday.  She’s joining us at the Social Media Breakfast NH BBQ.

Social Media Breakfast NH I’ve been thinking about the best advice I can give her — she told me that she’s shy at this type of event.  Having attended a number of events, I recommend:

Look around the room for the people who look like they want to be engaged, but are hanging back.  Chances are they are more shy than you and just waiting for someone to break the silence.

I’ve used this approach many times and found almost everyone I approached seemed relieved when I introduced myself.  I typically ask people what they do, then go from there.  I try to keep my mouth shut (which as an extrovert, is sometimes a challenge) and focus on listening to what they have to say.

Some people will answer quickly, then drop back into silence. That’s ok.  They’ll need to move at their own pace.  Follow-up questions you might want to ask are:

  • is this your first _________ (insert event name)? — which can open the door to talking about how other events went, what they got out of them.  Could also be a good way to help you judge whether the mix of topics and people is the right kind of event for you to attend in the future.
  • what brought you to  ________ (insert event name)? — a good way to get an understanding of what they need/are looking for.  It might be something you could help them with, or at least you might know someone they should talk to.
  • I’m still new to __________ (pick your latest social media site/service/craze).  Do you use it?  What do you use it for? How have you been doing it? — this could give you good tips/pointers for your own use.

Talking about the weather is a typical fallback for many people.  Try to stick to questions that help your get to know the person better.

Remember, if it comes down to it and it’s too hard to draw them into the conversation, you can always politely say “I’m trying to meet as many people as possible today.  It was great to meet you.”  Pause for a moment, then look around the room.  There’s always someone out there hoping someone else will break that awkward moment and start a conversation.


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