Don’t Be Overeager
When you attempt to talk to someone in a public venue for the purpose of networking, the way in which you reach out has everything to do with the result you get. In other words, it’s all about the approach, with the venue being an important consideration. If you are in a place where the other person has overtly or implicitly agreed to socialize or be met, then that person is fair game. It is mutually understood that the person is willing to engage, and you have permission to strike up a conversation. Since both parties know this, the other person is less likely to be guarded or feel that you are trespassing in his or her personal space. Trade shows, industry conferences, professional events, and parties are obviously networking bonanzas; most everyone is open and receptive to making new relationships. You might say they’re “all-you-can-meet” buffets.
However, random connecting differs from these kinds of venues in that you are approaching people in places where the other party has not necessarily agreed to be met. This is where your approach becomes so essential. It is especially important to be cognizant of the creep factor—not the other person’s creep factor, but yours. Although there is often some initial unease (even in traditional networking events) on the other person’s part about whether approaching another person is legit, this concern is heightened in random connecting. You don’t want to come on too strong; rather, you want to ease into the ...