One of the arts of Mixing it Up! is learning to spend less than five minutes with each person. This means you need to develop a graceful exit strategy. Remember how frightening it is for most people to be in a room filled with others they don’t know, and how easy it is to feel out of place when they’ve been left alone. It often feels as though there must be something wrong with us, or we’ve been rejected. Keep that in mind when you leave others to meet the next person.
You might simply say, “Oh, I just noticed Carl across the room, and I need to catch up with him. Will you please excuse me?”
My favorite exit is to turn to see someone I know close by and then introduce them to who I was talking with. This involves both parties and allows me move on to meet someone new.
If you’re not able to spot someone to introduce to the person when you’ve spent enough time with them, mention that by standing near the food, they will be more likely to meet someone they don’t know, because that is where the most traffic is throughout the evening.
If someone gets too comfortable talking with you, you run the risk that they will end up sticking to you like glue. Several years ago, I offered to drive a new member in Elite Leads to a mixer. Nancy was very nervous about attending the function. When we got there, I introduced her to several people, but every time I turned around, I literally bumped into her. After the fifth or sixth time, it became a bit irritating, because she actually stood directly behind me. No matter how many people I introduced her to, she kept clinging to me.
I finally realized that it wasn’t comfortable for her to walk up to someone and start a conversation. I led her to an area that was fairly private and asked if she had tried to meet anyone. Of course she said no. I asked what she thought might be the worst thing that could happen, and she said that maybe they wouldn’t want to talk to her.
“On the outside chance that might happen, would you really want to know someone who wouldn’t want to talk with you?” I asked.
“No.” Nancy confirmed.
“On the other hand, if you don’t introduce yourself to someone and they’re potentially a Power Partner, you’d miss out on a great opportunity, wouldn’t you?”
“Sure,” she brightened.
“What if you could introduce them to someone that might end up leading to new business for them?”
Nancy smiled at the thought of being responsible for such a positive possibility.
So, one more time I walked Nancy over to someone I knew and introduced her. When we met up later she told me that she managed to meet several more contacts on her own. One was a potential Power Partner that she was particularly looking forward to getting to know better. She also mentioned that she was able to introduce a few people that she met earlier in the evening and it made her feel like she was contributing to their success.
Nancy was a quick study. Throughout the years I have seen her at various functions and she will typically have someone with her who has never been to a mixer. One time I jokingly told her that she should get a medal for helping so many people get comfortable with mixers. Nancy laughed and said, “I can’t believe how much I missed out on all those years before I knew how much fun this could be!”