I meet one hundred people every day.
Shocking? Maybe. But in outside sales (my chosen field) it’s just part of the job.
Sometimes, ninety nine of those one hundred reject me outright. But a key thing to remember is that I don’t lament over the ones that said no — I celebrate over the one that said yes.
I go to a lot of networking events. And I see a lot of people hovering around groups, awkwardly twiddling their thumbs as they muster up the courage to approach somebody and introduce themselves. This always breaks my heart, since networking events should be fun! But too often, people find them uncomfortable and scary.
Now, meeting as many people as I have has given me ample opportunity to test dozens of different approaches to starting conversations.
I call these approaches openers, because they open the interaction with a new prospect. Real clever, I know. But there’s one opener in particular that I want to share with you today that works incredibly well in the context of networking events.
Me and my friends call it the Legendary Open, for the sole reason that we have yet to find an approach that delivers better results. Nothing has beaten the Legendary Open yet, and I don’t know if something ever will.
The Legendary Open is everything a networker wants in an introduction: it’s short, it sets expectations right off the bat, and best of all, you can use it again and again with no penalties.
It’s literally our top of the line stuff — the best of the best in our arsenal. And the most exciting of all? It’s only eight words long.
Next time you see somebody that you’d like to get to know at a networking event, just walk up to them and say:
“Hi, I don’t think I’ve met you yet”.
Congratulations! If you did it right, you’ve just made one of the best first impressions ever. And here’s why.
The reason this approach works so well is twofold.
First, it implies social proof — by mentioning to someone that you’re not sure if you’ve met them yet, you’re subcommunicating the fact that you’ve already met a lot of people at that particular place. This adds social value & authority.
Social value and authority are the cornerstones of a successful social interaction.
Robert Cialdini, in his seminal book Influence, talks about this a lot, especially in the context of novel or uncomfortable situations (which, as stated, many people find networking events to be)
“… Social proof is most powerful for those who feel unfamiliar or unsure in a specific situation and who, consequently, must look outside of themselves for evidence of how best to behave there.”
Two, by including that you don’t think you’ve met them yet, you provide plausible deniability if you, in fact, have!
This is the main reason I love the Legendary Open so much. Since I meet around a hundred people per day, I’m obviously bound to forget a few faces. When I open them two weeks later with this line, it’s no harm, no foul — they mentally note “Wow, this guy must meet a lot of people” and we move on to the meat of the conversation. If anything, this actually helps.
The key here is that your delivery be grounded in nonchalance. This is normal for you. It’s not a big deal to meet somebody new at an event specifically created for meeting new people — it’s just something that you do.
That level of confidence diffuses into every conversation and helps you project an air of abundance. And this lack of neediness makes you genuine; instead of being scared of saying the wrong thing for fear of “losing” a decent connection, you speak your mind. You get to be exactly who you are, and high quality connections pick up on that congruence and like you more.
Meeting people doesn’t have to be scary. I would know — I do it around a hundred times per day. But it does have to be exciting. You have to genuinely be interested in human beings to have any sort of long term networking success. Luckily, tricks like the Legendary Open make building that interest a little bit easier.
The time for action is now! A single conversation is all is takes to launch that new startup, build that real estate empire, or meet the person of your dreams. Big success starts with little things.