You’ve seen those people. People who walk in and immediately command the room. You can be one of them–with a little effort.
“The best way I know to stand out in a crowd of people at an event is to know what you want to get out of the event. Do you want to meet people? Do you want to find someone who does X? Then let people know. You’ll separate yourself immediately because people will know why you’re there instead of just milling about the crowd like the rest of the cattle passively waiting for something to come to you,” explains workplace productivity expert Richard Mangahas. “Along similar lines, you absolutely need great answers to following questions: Where are you from? What do you do? Who do you know here (How?)? Create a story to answer each of those questions, but leave enough mystery or hooks so a conversation can begin to build. And I also have to add: Smile, make eye contact, and add value and energy to a conversation.”
Don’t only have great answers at the ready, ask insightful questions as well. “Ask great questions. When you meet people, show interest by asking more about what they do and who they are. Go for the personal stories first; let them know you are curious about them, not their business. Once you know what people do, ask pertinent, perky questions that show you value other people’s opinions: ‘Where do you think oil prices are going? What do you think has been the biggest technology change in dentistry in the past five years? Do you think our city can use more big events?’ Asking questions around larger topics than just ‘their’ business enables other people to join in the conversation you started,” says Rick Spence, co-founder of Connectinc, a Toronto-based business that helps people develop stronger, sustainable business relationships.
Make a great first impression–it really does matter. “You can make yourself standout in a crowd by delivering a killer speech, whether it’s an introduction, an elevator pitch or responding to a question. Make sure that whatever comes out of your mouth is powerful and memorable, once that aspect is there, get the audience’s involvement within the first minute or so and that is how you command a room,” advises business coach Iola Yhap.
Be a great storyteller, and you will grab attention. “Prepare great stories to share. Don’t just name-drop vacuously; tell stories about simple business wins everyone is after, whether it be sales, innovation, getting through to big-name prospects, hiring, travel tips, etc. Create value for other people before you ever start asking for favors for yourself,” suggests Spence.
Make yourself useful, even if you are just a guest. “Adopt a host mentality. Introduce people to each other, even if you don’t know them yet. Put other people’s needs first, and they will see you as an influencer,” adds Spence.
Don’t fret, even if you are not the most outgoing person, you can still command a room like a pro with a little preparation. “If you are introverted you can become more confident in crowds by dressing the part and being different. Look for simple yet memorable ways for you to be remembered; as a result of being different, you will be memorable and this will build your confidence,” notes Yhap.
Adds Spence, “Introverts…just have to prepare themselves, both mentally and practically. That means working on your body language and appearance so you look more confident than you may really be feeling. If you think you’re a schlub, other people will think you are, too. Walk a bit taller, speak a little more loudly and confidently, smile more often. Keep reminding yourself to do these things, and they will become more natural.”
In the business world it is important to have people stand up and take notice. “Standing out in a crowd and being confident can open up doors of opportunities for you. Maybe you will be invited to speak or contribute in some way to an organization, company, cause etc,” says Yhap.
Being the hit at an industry event can result in great possibilities. “Everyone needs a network of contacts and potential allies. The bigger your network, the more valuable it is (it’s called the network effect). The more people you can call on in times of need (your own needs, or other people’s – because you increase your network by connecting more and more people to it), the more benefit you can derive. People are drawn to people with strong personal networks. They will see you as a charismatic, influential figure, and will want to get closer to you,” says Spence. “Use your network! Create value for others first – by sharing information and industry intelligence, connecting people to other people who may be able to help them and inviting them to cool events. When your network knows you have their back, they will have yours – and you can call on them at any time for advice, ideas, resources and referrals. No one in business succeeds alone. When you build your network, your network builds you.”