Yesterday I went to a networking event for lunch. There were about 80 people there and we were assigned to tables with 8 at each table. The conversation was good, but superficial throughout the lunch. The typical question was directed at the name of the company on the name tag. “Tell me about XYZ company?” or “What do you do at XYZ?”
Then the event director introduced an activity. We went around the table and each of us had two minutes to answer a personal question and then 2 minutes to talk about what we do professionally.
The personal question was either “What is a mistake you have made in the past?” or “What has been a memorable sporting event for you?”
I don’t think it mattered what the personal questions were but the interesting thing that happened was when people began to open up and talk about personal things, the mood, conversation and connection at the table changed. People were laughing and interacting more naturally. They were interested and engaged. It was no longer superficial, it was genuine.
When we can talk to people personally and not just professionally – we connect. When we open up personally – others can relate. When we are vulnerable and real we allow others to be the same and we bond.
Just some food for thought at your next networking event 🙂