I’m cooking up some new networking tips and techniques (especially good for introverts) to debut during my “Welcome” session at the Creative Freelancer Conference in Boston on June 21. (It’s not too late to register!)
They’re rooted in some fascinating ideas about how not to be a robot from my new favorite book, “The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive,” by Brian Christian.
In it, he writes about conversational techniques that either invite more conversation or stop it in its tracks. One idea I especially like is what he called “holds” using the metaphor of those jewel-toned rubber blobs you see at a gym on a fake rock climbing wall. “Each is both an aid to the climber and an invitation onto a certain path or route along the ascent,” he writes.
I’ve talked over the years about the crazy scarf I used to wear to networking events but I didn’t really know there was a principle behind it until I read this book. Christian explains that wearing something unusual provides a “hold” for someone to grab onto. “You give the other people an easy first hold – a simple and obvious way to initiate a conversation with you, if they want.”
So be sure to bring something unusual to wear – a scarf, a hat, a pin – if you’re one of those anxious networkers. And be ready to practice!