From 21 Switchbacks:
1. Smile, stand up tall and be unrelentingly friendly. When you assert yourself in an ongoing conversation, the first and most important “words” that you speak are not words at all, they’re how you show up physically. Also, when you’re exhausted, it’s easy to forget the small things that make you seem friendly. I am working on exaggerating my friendliness to make up for this.
2. Lose your agenda and assume everyone is equally amazing and worth meeting. You may have a few special people you want to meet, but don’t let that list get in the way of the other connections you can make. You literally have no idea who is going to be the most valuable contact or friend.
3. Go to places where you’re likely to have a significant common interest. When you have five conversations in a row that go nowhere, you can get tired and question what you’re doing. Mitigate that risk by going to places where you have something meaningful in common – even if it’s a group of three instead of 300.
4. Small groups are great, too. Related to the prior point, don’t choose what to do based on where you think the most people will go. You can only make one significant connection at a time so small group meetings with a specific premise can be even more valuable than large groups.
5. Be understated and listen. One graceful way to assert yourself is to briefly introduce yourself and then join the ongoing flow of conversation. This is respectful and lets you piggyback on any depth that’s been established.
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