I recently attended a social event at which I knew absolutely no one.  Usually, I at least know one or two people in the room, but this time I was a total stranger; an outsider to the town.

My new role takes me to a lovely new town, Des Moines, Iowa, where, until January of this year, I knew no one.  I was attending a Chamber of Commerce mixer at the Jasper Winery on a freakish spring day with a snowstorm piling up on the tulips.

After I registered, I began to wander the beautiful facility filled with people chatting very friendly.  At first, it was a bit intimidating, but then I decided to turn it into a bit of a research project. I gave myself twenty minutes to conduct my first experiment; wandering the room and not introducing myself to anyone.

I checked out the various booths with edible treats, browsed the auction items on the tables, and admired the facility’s structure. Not one person introduced themselves to me.  They didn’t seem very friendly.

Then I conducted my second experiment; I started introducing myself to people. I would stop anyone walking by, smile my best smile, stick out my hand and say, “Hi, I’m Rick McNary and I’d like to meet you.”  Suddenly, I found myself with the friendliest group I’ve been around in a long time.

It reminded me of Solomon’s advice: If you want to have friends, be friendly.

Here is my number one rule in meeting new people, taken from Dale Carnegie:

 “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

 Through my years of meeting new people, I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me.

      •  Repeat the person’s name at least twice
          • When you hear it for the first time, “It’s really nice to meet you, Joe!”
          • When you leave the conversation, “It was nice to meet you, Joe!”
      • Associate their name with something or someone
      • Be interested in them (rule #1)
      • Have a mental list of questions
          • Where do they live?
          • Where are they originally from?
          • What do they do for a living?
          • Ask for their opinion about something (except religion and politics!)
          • Do they have family near?
          • Ask for advice – (where to eat, where to shop, where to play, etc.)

In my entire life and meeting tens of thousands of people along the way, I have only had one person react to my questions negatively.  Not bad odds!

    •  Most important lessons I have learned:
        • People like the sound of their name
        • People like to talk about themselves
        • If I can do those two things, I’ve suddenly made a friend who likes me

This is the best line: “Hi, my name is __________(fill in the blank) and I’d like to meet you.”  Works every time with positive results.

What lessons have you learned to help you meet new people?

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