I was at the gym last week and when putting on my headset I realized that it needed to be charged. How frustrating! Not having my music at the ready almost ruined my whole workout.

I’m funny like that.

There was a young couple stretching next to me preparing to get their workout started. I’m not sure why but I mentioned to them about not having my headset charged and asked if that has ever happened to them. Of course, it had, and we had a funny conversation about it that lasted maybe a minute. In fact, that conversation put a smile on my face and made it easier to cope with not having my music.

My point. It’s easy to connect and have fun with people (even strangers!) when you want to. As long as the situation is appropriate, the topic is not too heavy, and the scenario creates common ground or an experience that they can relate to.

Standup comedians do this all the time! In fact, the good comics can often take the heaviest situations and make them funny.

Anyway, here are three ways to immediately connect with people at a networking event, cocktail party, or outing where you might be meeting people for the first time.

Share a Story

“Very nice to meet you! May I share a quick story?” Who is going to say no? Just make sure you can share a story that is brief, relevant, funny, or at the very least interesting. One of my mentors uses a story telling format – Point, Story, Application or the PSA Model. Make your point or share why you’re telling your story, tell your story, and then apply it to the moment if possible. Then ask the person or people you’re speaking with if they have experienced something similar. What a fun way to break the ice and potentially connect over something you have all experienced.

Be Clear on Their Name

How many times have you exchanged names with someone only to forget their name in the middle of the conversation? The reason is probably because we’re not fully listening to the other person’s name but instead, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say next. A good way to prevent this is to repeat the person’s name when they mention it and associate the name with someone you know with the same name. If they have an unusual name, ask them to spell it and you can spell it along with them. Remembering people’s names (at least at the moment) is important and makes an instant connection or reconnection. If you happen to forget someone’s name, just ask them. “I’m sorry. What is your name again?” Then mention your name. Don’t be embarrassed. They probably forgot your name too!

Ask Questions

May I share a quick story? Have you been to this event before? What has been your experience so far? Are you a member here? How many people do you know? What are typically the types of professions that attend these events? What type of work do you do? What makes you different from others in your profession? How did you get into your line of work? What is your focus right now? Are you on track? Are most of your clients local or can you work with clients anywhere? Who do you look to meet and why? How can I be a resource to you? These questions are a bit random, but you get the idea. Keep your questions open ended and consider your answers if these questions come back to you in the form of, “How about yourself?” If the person you’re speaking with doesn’t ask you many questions, this might be an indication that there isn’t a good connection and a sign that you may not want to spend too much time speaking with this one person.

The key is having an attitude toward learning, helping, listening, joking, and being present. If you’re not in the mood to develop important relationships (I’m not always in the mood!), you won’t have fun and won’t be very effective.

Since I’ve gone back to my gym, I saw my new friends and joked that I now have my music fully charged and ready to go. They laughed and made a mention of their own music.

I’m sure the banter will continue.

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