Learning how to mingle with everyone is not easy, especially, if you’re an introvert.
There are several clichés about the importance of networking. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” “Your net worth is your network.” “You are the average of your five closest friends.” Studies confirm that there is a lot of truth to these statements. Most of the work people get is through recommendations, be it through customers referring people to your business, someone acting as a reference during a job search, or a recruiter/employer noticing your skill sets somehow.
Humans are social creatures, like it or not. Our societies evolved from living in harsh environments by learning to depend upon one another, creating an ingrained need to belong (life literally depended on it). Because of this, we can experience physical repercussions for not having the need for socialization met, including cardiovascular disease, decrease in immunity, and mental health issues. So, whether it’s for general well-being or career opportunities, it’s crucial to know how to mingle with everyone.
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The Art of How to Mingle with Everyone
There is an art to being social. As with all arts, it takes practice to hone. Blue and yellow might always mix to be green, but it takes trial and error to learn to create the exact tone of green you need.
Socializing is quite similar – no two people will necessarily get the exact same green stroke on the canvas just because they have the same paint and brush. But, they can both improve those strokes by practicing established techniques.
Interacting with people, likewise, has established systems. This is especially true when you’re learning how to mingle with friends or even strangers.
For example, making someone feel good will make them like you more than making them feel bad will do. It is often said most will forget what you have told them, even what you have done for them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Here are seven of the “brushstrokes” artists use when painting their network.
1. Assess the Situation
For an introvert, it can help to do a little homework before social events. Before arriving, be sure to take a moment to look up some information:
- What kind of party is it? Different types of parties will have different rules. A private party at a friend’s house will likely be more laid back than a public party such as a professional networking event. Even a formal dinner party will have a different atmosphere than a casual dinner party.
- What type of people will be there? A networking event for comedy writers will draw a different crowd than a networking event of corporate attorneys, which will have a different demographic than a party being thrown by a group of soldiers who just graduated from boot camp.
- How well do attendees already know each other? Networking events are often strangers with similar interests being drawn together. Parties might be more of a collection of already-established groups.
- Do you want to be there, or are you there for someone else? If you were dragged to a party, you will have different motivations and resistances to face versus attending a social event of your choosing. Similarly, people at a mutual friend’s party will hold different views of you as an outsider of their friend’s life versus another person of similar interests at a networking event seeking those common threads.
2. Arrive Early and Position Yourself Strategically
Arriving early gives you a fantastic advantage. It allows you to see who is entering the room and to start conversations with the people you want to talk to.
Stand near the door or the bar; these areas offer great vantage points. Being there when people enter the room allows you to approach them, start a conversation, and help them feel more comfortable, which aids in making a positive first impression.
3. Start with the Host
Odds are, if you are at a party where you know few people, you are friends with the host. That is an excellent starting point because the host will know everyone else in the room.
If there is a friend who the host knows shares a common interest, the host will likely be able to ensure that you cross paths. Similarly, being seen with the host lets other guests know that you are there for a reason, making people warm up to you.
You will feel more confident and comfortable, and others will be less defensive towards you. From there, it will be easier to network outward into the host’s other friends.
If you are at a networking event, find the key organizers. Let them know that you enjoyed the setup (people love to be appreciated for their work).
Getting to know people who are in positions where they are in charge of organizing events is a great way to be introduced to other members who are active within a community, be it a professional organization or a community group.
Once you learn to mingle with the front runners, you’ll know how to mingle with others.
4. Offer to Help the Host
Everyone appreciates an extra set of hands for setting up any event.
Being helpful also offers a distraction from being anxious by providing a task to perform. This can create natural ways to open conversation with others without it seeming forced.
The host will be better able to make more introductions as you’ll get to mix with others who are helping set up the event.
The more experience you have with the arrangement of the party, the more you can contribute to conversations guests start regarding aspects of the party.
Just, don’t allow party duty to become such a distraction that it becomes an excuse to not socialize.
5. Read Body Language
When looking to join an ongoing conversation, it’s important to read the body language of the group. If people are standing close together with little space between them, it’s a sign that the group is closed off.
On the other hand, if there are gaps between people or they’re using open body language, it indicates they’re open to others joining the conversation.
6. The Handshake
It might seem old and outdated, but people still put a lot of judgment into a solid handshake.
This is beyond the traditional, coal-crushing-into-diamond grip, but into how much contact is being made, how much assurance is in the grip, as well non-hand aspects of the shake – eye contact and a confident smile.
Here, it isn’t always as much about appearing intimidating as much as demonstrating that you aren’t intimidated.
7. Bring Something Engaging
Social etiquette has always suggested to never show up empty-handed. Even if the host asks for nobody to bring anything, it is generally accepted when someone shows up with a nice bottle of wine or other thoughtful gift for the host (such as flowers).
Bringing something eye-catching that will spark the interests of other attendees is a great way to open conversations without starting the conversation, yourself.
The more unique and custom the gift, the more questions other guests will feel compelled to approach you to answer.
8. Quality over Quantity
This is true in every aspect of life.
There will be a lot of fascinating people and groups met in a lifetime, but it is better to choose fewer, carefully-chosen groups so that you can focus more time building your reputation with them.
Strength and longevity of your relationships depends a lot more on the quality of the people you are giving your energy rather than the quantity.
It was earlier stated that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so you will want those five people to be as close to your end goals as possible.
The more familiar you get with quality groups of people, the more confidence you’ll feel in yourself, making networking come even more naturally.
9. Use Your Superpower – Listening
People love to talk about themselves.
When someone wants a person to just listen, they don’t think of their outgoing friends, they turn to the introverts.
As much as some people crave a spotlight, they need an audience. It is fine to ease out of your comfort zone by joining a group conversation just as a listener.
In addition to complimenting a person’s stories, ask follow-up questions. Let them brag, let them have their moment, let them feel like the most popular person in the room. According to Maya, they’ll remember that.
How to Mingle with Everyone, Almost…
As with all things, there will be instances where chemistry is off, the party is a bust, or some other uncontrollable event is making people less social than usual, and every trick in the book just won’t work. Maybe it’s a company party after a mass layoff. Maybe it’s a dinner party after a natural disaster. Sometimes, the energy is just uneasy, and that had nothing to do with you. That’s perfectly fine, and should never be a reason to not try again.
Humans are social creatures. Between the physical health, mental health, and social health reasons to develop the ability to engage with others, it’s too important not to. By practicing these 7 tips on how to mingle with everyone, even if you’re an introvert, you will be able to cultivate a network of your own design.
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