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Corporate Speed Dating Anxiety

I’m going to a Salesforce partner event this morning called the “Salesforce Partner Exchange for DISA” which I’m sure will be a fabulous event. They do a great job putting these things together. A lot of great information comes out of them and you get a better understanding of not just the organization in focus, but the partner community that is supporting that organization as well. All of that is great however, one of the big draws for these events is the networking aspect of it. You’ve got a lot of different people from all the different parts of the Salesforce value chain and community including product vendors, services vendors, consultancies, other customers, and just a whole slew of different types of people that are engaged around this type of event. For a lot of people that’s a big draw, myself included. You want to meet other people that are a part of the community and see how they fit in, see how what they are doing dovetails with what you are doing, are there any synergies and so on and so forth.

In these types of events, a lot of times I feel a little bit uncomfortable. It feels a little bit like I’m speed dating people. You go in and you meet this person, you have a 3 to 5 minute conversation with them, and then you move on to the next person. It all just feels a little bit artificial. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is but I often feel a little bit put off by the personal interaction in those circumstances. I mean I’ve met a lot of great people at these types of event. I’ve met people who have over time really become integral parts of my business and close personal friends but it hasn’t ever felt very natural to me. So all in all I always have a little bit of dread of going to these things. I feel kind of uncomfortable because I’m not a naturally outgoing person in the sense of meeting new people. I talk to people that I’ve know for a while to the point where they’re almost all searching for ways to get me to shut up but it’s hard for me to go into something like that and meet people that I haven’t met before.

As I was thinking about all that this morning, I realized that everyone’s in the same boat at these events. So there shouldn’t be a feeling of discomfort about this idea that you’re speed dating each other. My plan for today is to address that head on and essentially try to do briefer types of meets. One of the classic mistakes I make at an event like this is I’ll meet somebody, find them really interesting, spend the next hour talking to them and probably minimize some of the value that I could get from an event like this.

One of the points of an event like this is to expose the diversity of the community to you so that you can really expand the breadth of folks that you know. There’s always the possibility in these to meet people that can help you, that you can work together with, and that you can socialize with. Getting too locked into any particular conversation is probably counterproductive so I’m going to try to be much more concise in my meetings. I’m also really going to make an effort to do more with the time that I have in these and not be locked into my phone. Eyes on your phone is basically the universal sign for don’t talk to me.

I’d love to know how other people address this type of issue. I know it’s fairly common for those of us who aren’t natural networkers to try figure out how do I do a better job of taking advantage of these types of events and meet people that I have something in common with. So I’m going to try to do a better job today of reaching out to people and being the first person to say how instead of just being the respondent. I’d love to know what tactics and techniques work for other people who aren’t naturally extraverted at these events.

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