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.
It was about 10 years ago and I was attending one of those very packed, very loud industry events. People stood talking in small groups or lingering on the edges, trying to look engaged while knowing no one. Beyond flashing my bra or pushing into a crowd of strangers, I could not figure out how we were to get anyone’s attention.
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 one basic guideline in place: networking events are not the place to hold long involved conversations.
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. Events are a great place to discover you want to have a longer conversations - have the short one, then book the one/one time to do a private expanded one and move on.
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…