When a brand new networker goes to a mixer or other informal gathering, their first glimpse of the room may be daunting. They’ll be confronted with a room full of strangers busily involved in conversations. They’ll notice clusters of two, three, four, or more people. As a stranger, they may feel that if they try to join any of the clusters, it will be intruding. It’s an awkward moment, and they may not know quite what to do or where to start. Be aware of Open vs. Closed Networking.
The way the groups are configured can tell you a lot about how you will be received if you approach them. Notice for instance that some of the groups are “closed”, and no matter which direction you approach from, their backs are turned to you. Therefore, unless you like awkward pauses or hostile glares, don’t try to force yourself in.
Other groups are “open”, and have left an open side from which you can approach them face to face. This orientation is a welcoming configuration; it signals that their conversation is not private and that you would be welcome to join them and introduce yourself.
Think about these configurations, next time you attend a networking event. Are you in an “open” group that has a welcoming feel? If you notice you’re in a “closed” group, make sure to position yourself in such a way that any networker, new or experienced, feels at ease.
Transformational Leader Podcast
I was recently interviewed on this topic of “Open vs. Closed Networking” on the Transformational Leader Podcast, sponsored By Paul Martinelli and the John Maxwell Team. This show is designed to help leaders, influencers, and high achievers transform the world through positive influence. BNI has a strategic relationship with John Maxwell Team and I personally recommend their program.
I invite you to listen in to episode #13 of my interview on The Transformational Leader Podcast about “Open vs. Closed Networking”.
Leaders, the way your people are configured in groups during your events can tell your visitors a lot about how they will be received.
It’s important to train people to keep “open” groups: an open side from which visitors can approach others face-to-face. This orientation is a welcoming configuration; it signals that their conversation is not private and that visitors would be welcome to join them and introduce themselves.
The John Maxwell Team Leadership, Coaching, Speaking, and Training Development Program will take your leadership and life to the next level. They have a great series of podcasts. I recommend you listen to their podcasts at https://johnmaxwellteam.com/podcast/