Anyone who does business will tell you that the best place to network and make connections is NOT in a formal setting. It’s in a casual setting, like while you’re playing golf, at the bar, or on vacation.
People don’t like making deals in formal settings because it’s stuffy.
People naturally are not comfortable in those kind of environments. The mindset people have during that time is too eager, or on the flip side, on the defense (i.e. “what does this person want from me?”).
It’s like speed dating – too forced.
You know what first question I hate? “What do you do?.” There is more to people than what they do for work.
Humans like to talk about . . . human things.
Talk about something else first. “Where did you get that necklace?.” “I checked out this new dog park yesterday – it was great. Do you have pets?.” “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Whenever I’m out to make a connection with someone, I take the business equation out of it. I think to myself, “This is what I got. What are you about? Can we work something out? Yes? Cool. No? Cool.”
This, I have found, is way more effective than going into it with a what-can-I-get-out-of-this or a fear/desperation mindset.
My piece of advice would be to stop being so formal. Instead of handshakes, give friendly hugs (if you are a hugger). Relax and go out with the simple intention of connecting with new people. And don’t forget to have fun. 🙂