Be A Connections Rock StarAfter teaching a workshop at an event the other day, I ran into an acquaintance and we got to talking. He brought up something he struggles with and when I responded that I often struggle with the same thing, he seemed astonished.

“You?!” he said, “But I thought you were so successful! You always seem to have it all figured out.”

This is funny because I most certainly do NOT have anything all figured out. Just this afternoon, I showed up early for a meeting. A whole day early. Sigh.

But this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered people who know me from my event work and have a baselessly high opinion of me . One guy recently told me he thinks I’m “kind of a rock star”. These are, more often than not, people I’ve never even had a one on one conversation with; people who really don’t know much about me at all. So what makes them think I’m so great?

The Host Mentality

The secret is a little trick that applies to both event planning and networking. It’s called “the host mentality”.

Here’s why it’s fantastic:

When you create a connection between people, and good things come out of that connection… you get credit for those good things. BAM!

Using Hosting to Network

This works like a charm in a networking context. By seeing yourself in the role of ‘host’ at any event, your focus shifts from acting on your own behalf to acting in service of the other people there. It’s basically a two step process:

  1. Mine the crowd: engage in conversation with your fellow attendees to find out interesting and relevant information about them
  2. Create connections: When you find two people with something in common, introduce them

This simultaneously relieves the pressure on you to make a good impression and makes a great impression on everyone you meet!

Events: Next-Level Hosting

For those of us running events, this might seem obvious. Of course we’re the hosts – that’s the whole point of putting on an event.

People do meet at events; when they sit next to each other, when they participate in group discussion activities, and during networking breaks. But are we, as event professionals, fully capitalizing on the potential for connection at every gathering? Could we increase the number and value of these connections?

I believe there is opportunity for us to be more intentional and strategic about building interpersonal connection right into our events.

Many people find networking difficult, but we can ease their path. We can provide icebreaking elements, like the organizers of the Green Drinks mixer who have each of their attendees write a topic they’re interested in talking about on their nametag.

We can include facilitated conversational activities to take the pressure off of individuals to start and carry on initial conversations with one another. These don’t have to be just about getting people connected – they are also an excellent opportunity to have people share their views on issues relevant to the event. There are a number of excellent formats available
for this.

The list goes on but the idea remains the same – being an instrument of connection is an incredibly powerful tool for building credibility, goodwill, and influence.