This is part two of a four-part series on developing your conversational skills. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one on etiquette.

Any social event—whether it’s a networking event, community event, party, or social gathering—can be an excellent opportunity for you as a REALTOR® to engage with others and build relationships. Regularly but discreetly networking can help keep you top-of-mind for referral business and, as EXIT Associates, create opportunities to sponsor new members into EXIT and earn single-level residual income. Social events can seem scary, but with these three socializing tips, you can bloom instead of being a wallflower.

Leave improv to the professionals

Spontaneity is great, but preparation can settle your nerves and give you a magnetic confidence boost. To get ready for a social event, first anticipate the common questions you’ll be asked and prepare your answers as you would for an interview, such as:

  • What’s new? Do anything exciting lately?
  • How’s business? Working on any new projects?

Next, come up with three recent anecdotes that you can draw from in a pinch. Don’t rehearse the wording, just make note of any funny or interesting stories from recent memory so they’re easier to recall. Finally, if you know you’ll be interacting with specific clients or colleagues, use social media beforehand to see what they’ve recently published. It’s worth knowing that a past client had twins and may be looking to upsize their home or that another agent is dissatisfied with their brokerage and may be looking for a change. At the very least, you can recall anything you learn as kindling in later conversations.

Reading body language

Understanding body language won’t make you a mind reader, but it can help you be more empathetic. The trick to correctly reading body language is to pay special attention to reactive changes in someone’s behavior so as not to misinterpret his or her natural mannerisms, such as crossed arms, tense facial expressions, slow talking, or fidgeting. At social events, helpful cues can be those that suggest the other person would like to conclude the conversation, such as brief responses, wandering eyes, and the direction of a person’s feet. If someone’s body is gradually turning and their feet are pointed elsewhere, he or she may be ready to continue mingling. If you suspect as much, create a buffer space between your sentences so the other person has an opportunity to segue into his or her exit if desired. In creating an out, you give the other person an opportunity to excuse him or herself gracefully, you keep your interaction positive and encourage the other person to return later after mingling.

Working the room

People often congregate at social events and knowing when it’s appropriate to approach a group to join can be the difference between social finesse and faux pas. Groups will either have an open or closed dynamic. You want to seek open groups of sociable people who are either standing side-by-side or with ample space between each person, allowing you to approach unobtrusively. As a rule, be polite and ask permission to join a group you’ve approached. In contrast, avoid closed groups standing face-to-face and positioned tightly together, as you’ll likely be intruding on a private conversation. Approaching larger groups of five or more can be intimidating, but they are generally more welcoming as your presence has less influence on the existing vibe of the group. However, if you’re uncomfortable approaching packs, your safest option is to find someone standing or seated alone. Chances are they’re in the same boat as you and will be receptive of company.

These tips can help you navigate the scene, but it’s uncommon to feel like The Great Gatsby, master of mingling, from the start. So, take  your nervousness in your stride and just start shaking hands and striking up friendly conversations with people. And always remember that social events are meant to be enjoyed.

Click here to read part three of this series, which focuses on adapting your conversation style to the personalities of others.

 

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