Social situations can cause even the most fearless freeze up when they walk into a room of people they don't know. Ironically, who better to teach us how to navigate these frozen waters than an introvert. Introverts aren't naturally drawn to groups of people, and some have great tips to how they deal with a sea of humanity on a daily basis.
My friend Navin just came from a round of social events and gave me some practical advice on breaking the ice in a few easy taps.
Make it "less personal." Many people are afraid of being rejected or laughed at when they approach people they don't know. Navin takes the pressure off himself by reframing social settings as "networking." He decided to use the parties as a way meet new business contacts: if he got rejected, it was a failed business connection, not a personal rejection.
Prep for small talk. Before Navin heads out the door he brushes up on a few topics like pop culture, sports, or business news. This way he has a couple of "go to" tidbits of information to keep the conversation going.
Have an ice breaker plan that helps people engage with you. There's nothing worse than that awkward silence after you introduce yourself, and no one knows what to say after that. Navin came up with a short introduction that broke the ice for him, and the people he was approaching
Hi - How are you doing? My name is Navin.
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself (Pause for people to say hi and introduce themselves. If they don't introduce themselves you can add, "and you are?")
How do you guys know each other? (That's an easy, low stress topic to break the tension and get the group to interact with each other )
Let the conversation play out. After it runs its course say, "it was nice meeting you", and ask for a business card. Then move to another group.
If you see someone you've met previously, reconnect.
Hooray! We're no longer doomed lean to awkwardly against the wall when we show up to a roomful of unfamiliar faces. Try Navin's plan and you'll be chipping through the ice in no time.
Looking for more insight about breaking through fear? Take a look at one of these posts
Face-down an Old Fear with Fresh Perspective - A practical exercise to put fear in perspective
Taking the Shot - What if we all lived by Wayne Gretzky's quote, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"?
Learn more about Navin Battu and search for other articles with Navin.