This mindset shift is in to take off your “I’m a Guest” invisible hat and put on your “I’m a Host” invisible hat.
When I first started to attend networking events I would arrive casually late – to make an entrance. Except that by the time I got there, everyone had already partnered up in conversation and no one looked up to see that I had arrived.
Then I would wander the perimeter and hope someone would come and talk to me. I would note the locations of the exits and food and just in case – the locations of the restrooms too.
Then I would spot someone that I thought I should talk to and I would just go up and just stand next to them. I was definitely in their line of site. They would be deep in conversation and I patiently would wait for my turn. What happened most often was that instead of turning to me, they turned the other way and were approached by another of their own acquaintances and I was left in line.
Finally, having talked to no one I would find a way to excuse myself from the host and even sneak past the registration table, so they wouldn't know that I had departed.
In 2006 I read Dr. Ivan Misner’s book “The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret” and I started to change my behavior. His most simple tactic when attending networking events is “Act Like a Host, not a Guest”.
What does a host do when they are hosting their own event? Let me make a list:
• Greet people at the door
• Make sure people register and get a name tag
• Introduce people to each other
• Ask people how they heard about the event
• Ask people who they would like to meet
• Direct people to the food, restrooms, drinks, display tables
• Make formal and informal introductions
• Listen and ask great questions
My big ah ha moment came when I realized that every attendee at a networking event can do any or all of these activities. As I started to do these myself I found people thought of me as more outgoing, more helpful, and better connected than the average networker.
Still to this day I will ask myself at an event, “What would the host be doing right now?” and then I go and do those things to help other people.
As you join organizations, you’ll find that some even have specific ‘visitor host’ or ‘ambassador’ roles for members to act like a host in a more official capacity. Ask for those assignments and even if you don’t get them right away – you can still act like you did with this brand new networking attitude.
David Makar is a Referral Marketing Consultant with the Referral Institute Ithaca. He helps business owners work less, make more, and play more by helping them create Referrals for Life®.
The Referral Institute Ithaca is a company region of the Referral Institute, the world’s leading referral marketing consulting, training, and coaching organization. For more information about the Referral Institute Ithaca, visit: