Friday, November 28, 2008

Do the hot potato

I’m flippant and irreverent on the best of days. Sometimes, I’m called to task on things I never really thought about before I opened my mouth. Sometimes, the strangest things I say become the coolest ideas.

Thus the ‘hot potato’ was born. (and Similar Circles, my networking event .. but that’s another post)

It was about 10 years ago and I was attending one of those very packed, very loud industry events where one is supposed to ‘network’ and ‘get exposure’ to the senior people in the room. Beyond flashing my bra or shouting, I could not figure out how to get anyone’s attention. Every ‘senior’ person had a line up. To top it off, conversations appeared to be deep and involved, exclusive and un-interruptable (is that a word?).

So I grumbled in the corner. I grumbled through the week. I grumbled until someone asked me how I would solve this very typical networking dilemma.

I’d put some basic governance around the whole thing, I said. Networking events are not the place to hold long involved conversations. Events are a great place to discover you want to have those conversations, then book the one/one time to do so and move on.

The premise is simple. You have a 2-3 minute conversation with as many folks as you can or want. You must then introduce the person with you are conversing to someone else - you “hot potato” them and you move on. You never walk away from a conversation without first engaging your partner in a new one.

Hot potato ensures you:
• are never trapped in a lengthy conversation
• appear to be a masterful and smooth networker
• meet a lot of folks
• are remembered as a considerate conversationalist

You can introduce virtual strangers. We’re all just hanging about wondering how to meet new people anyway. Wade right in!

You can introduce people to people you’ve just met. You appear thoughtful and considerate.

You’ll find folks feel comfortable bringing folks back to you!

Imagine if we all played hot potato at events. No more line ups. No more standing on the edges. It would be expected to have introductions made and to ease in and out of conversations on a regular and comfortable basis.

ah… my perfect world…

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