I was having a conversation today with a single friend of mine who is looking to date and found myself inviting them to a social networking event that was designed to attract health professionals, although they are not in my industry. My reason for inviting them was simple, I know there will be a surplus of intelligent, ambitious, well-educated, caretakers in one room looking to meet new people. Since this is not a violation of the invitation and these are the type of people my friend is looking to date, I thought why not?
Similarly, I will advise my clients that are looking to meet new people to join groups and clubs, to attend networking events, lectures, classes and/or volunteer at organizations that attract people of similar interests and values.
I know this concept is not a new one. In fact, I am sure any matchmaker/dating coach will spew this rule out in their top ten things to do, as well as any good natured grandmother or mom will offer this up in their dating 101 Talk. “If you want a certain type of person, go to the place where they hang out”. Sounds simple enough, but is it?
When discussed these concepts are often met with resistance. Most people will generally focus on whether or not they technically belong to the defined group, expressing concern that they will be ignored or won’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.
I also commonly hear frustration from disappointment that these types of activities are not laden with an abundance of physically attractive people or boredom since these events usually lack the luster and excitement associated with socializing at the latest hot spot.
Here are a few of my counter arguments and suggestions:
1. Check out the rules- If are you feeling insecure about not technically belonging to the defined group, consider if it is a strictly exclusive gathering, were you invited and what will be the nature of the gathering. As long as you are not breaking any rules and it’s a casual mingling of social network, then most people will find a few attendees from other industries refreshing and interesting. Remember cross disciplines need each other to survive in business and not everyone is always one track minded!
2. Remember you are not alone- On top of that, other single people will appreciate the added variety to the event. Single people often attend these events with dual purposes in mind. No single-professional is going to ignore an opportunity to mingle with someone they find attractive just because the activity was meant for something else.
3. Prepare and show interest- If you are getting involved with something new and are concerned that you won’t have something to contribute, sound stupid or bored, then get more involved! Be prepared by doing some homework. Read up on some topics that might be interesting to the group or related to the activity. This will arm you with information, so you feel more in control and less vulnerable. This will also gain you immediate acceptance since most people like those who show a healthy interest in them or share common interests.
4. Boost your own excitement-
Gaining more knowledge and getting more involved will also boost your interest level beyond socializing. Widening your focus will help you become less inpatient if you don’t meet your prince or princess right away or don’t feel the same rush you get after a night out on the town.
5. Act dynamic! You came there for a reason. Social norms predict that most people will be primed to meet others at these types of activities. Meaning the situation will make people more open and receptive to new people, making it easier for you to introduce yourself. This is the time to strike!
Let me know how it turns out.