So many posts on this site start off describing entrepreneurs, and that’s probably because they’re interesting, strange creatures. They run the gamut from the effortless charmer who can wring money and connections from anybody to the sweaty-palmed guy in khakis who just wants to make his dream a reality and didn’t realize that doing so would necessitate leaving his home and interacting with strangers.
I used to be one of the shyest kids out of everyone when I was a little, little kid. Like, shy to the point of needing to ask my friend to ask their mom for, like, juice. But at some point I just sort of “got over it” to the point that nobody intimidates me to talk to. It probably has something to do with the fact that my work necessitates it, which reinforces this behavior, but long before I finished college I had been that way. But, anyway. I know that’s a difficult thing for people to do, especially when they know they truly need to address this behavior as quickly as possible so it can benefit their life and their business.
That’s where a recent post on Hubspot comes in. It gives six tips for “non-awkward effective networking,” and I think the two points most worth discussing in a post here are the ones concerning starting a conversation. It depends on who you ask, but either starting a conversation or keeping it going is tougher. I’m going to assume if you’re reading this and have read this far, it’s probably because you’re not even sure where to start.
It’s actually much easier than you might think.
Hubspot suggests you “ease into the evening by introducing yourself to one person who is also flying solo and looking for someone to talk to.” From there, you can ask what their opinion is on topics that are interesting to both of you, be it industry news or something else completely. You can’t always assume to be fraternizing with people within your industry, so that’s why it helps to read the news.
Also, you’re an adult, so you should be reading the news anyway. Right? And if the other loner you’re approaching happens to be “someone who is a way bigger deal than you,” you sure as heck should have a reason why you’re coming up to them. “Just to say hi” isn’t a good enough reason. Be goal-oriented.
It will also probably help, too, if you read the rest of the points over at Hubspot.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.