If you notice someone standing alone at a networking event, they might need you to start the conversation.
John Stoker, president of DialogueWORKS and author of “Overcoming Fake Talk,” says that 40% or more of the population would classify as “shy,” meaning they may be comfortable sitting in a conference session, but they’re not comfortable talking to you first at a social event.
Why? Because they’re afraid of rejection, he explains — and they will do anything to keep from being singled out.
So how do you approach a shy person (who you don’t know) and put them at ease? Follow the six steps below:
'Hi, I'm Jane Doe from _____. Who are you?'
While this may seem like a blunt introduction, Stoker says you have to start with a simple, innocuous question like this to build a rapport.
'Asking questions is the easiest way to deepen or create a relationship with someone,' he explains.
'If you make the first move by introducing yourself and taking an interest in the person, you will help to set them at ease, which will help you to establish a relationship with the person that could pay huge returns,' he says. But you'll want to go a step further and tell them how excited you are to be meeting them.
Try something like, 'I'm so glad we had a chance to meet today,' or 'I'm so happy we're finally meeting!' or 'It certainly is a pleasure to meet you today.'
'People love to hear their name,' Stoker explains. So address them by it whenever possible.
It tells them you really listened to their introduction and that you're engaged in the conversation.
Stoker suggests asking thoughtful (but non-threatening) questions that will help them to reveal themselves to you. For instance, you can ask about their interests, hobbies, or passion projects.
You can also make observations and ask questions about those. For example, 'I noticed the tennis racquet charm on your necklace. Do you play?'
Shy people don't always feel comfortable marching up to someone and saying, 'Hey, I need help with this,' so put them at ease by offering your assistance whenever possible.
Once you get to this point, you should be able to 'jump around and go where the conversation takes you,' he says. 'You just never know what you might learn.'
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