My Best Tip for Meeting New People

8/17/2014 11:16:00 AM

Do you thrive on meeting new people? Or, do your palms break into sweat just by the very thought of introducing yourself to a stranger? Whether you like it, love it, or detest it, meeting new people if something we all have to do, and the more comfortable we become with it, the better.
Being skilled at getting to know new people isn’t about winning a popularity contest, being intellectual or funny, or even about being remarkably interesting.  Here’s the scoop: to be well-received (and liked) when meeting new people, your best bet is to ask questions and be a good listener. Put even simpler? Use more of your ears and less of your mouth.
My mother-in-law Lea likes to talk about the parties she attended with her rocket scientist husband, Dale. She was far less educated than her husband’s “high tech” peers. Theoretically, these should have been intimidating situations but, for Lea, they were a piece of cake. Her Dale would receive one compliment after another about his wife’s graciousness and intelligence! She was excellent at conversations, and was a joy to be around!
That’s because Lea had a secret when meeting new people. She figured she couldn’t compete with their smarts, so she listened intently and asked them lots of questions. Lea instinctively knew that if they did most of the talking (which most people like to do!) her encounters would be a success. And, that’s exactly what happened, time and again. Lea built up quite the wonderful reputation for herself.
When you meet new people (whether it’s at college, a new job, a networking event, or a party) or are in a social setting where you don’t know the others very well, take a page from Lea’s playbook. Take the pressure off yourself by letting them do most of the talking (I recommend a 40/60 rule of you/them).
This tip works especially well for those who are shy by nature and for young people who are now on their own and building their networks. Start with questions about the context of your introduction (event/person), listen intently, and show a keen interest in them with good, open ended follow up questions. Soon, they’ll be the ones asking you questions and you’re on your way!
Do you have a secret for meeting new people you’d like to share? When you’re in a social situation, do you try and ask more questions and do less talking? How has it been received? As always, please share your tips, advice, or thoughts. And feel free to share this with your friends, too!