This is my next tip that has helped me not only in networking, but also in general self confidence. Engaging on an intimate level can turn an introduction from meeting someone, to knowing someone.
This tip is pretty advanced and will be very hard to do. If you do choose to embark on this challenge it will change how you look at the world and test the core of your self control. Maybe I make it seem like more than it is. Just look into the eyes of a stranger. It sounds simple, but it is extremely uncomfortable if not done correctly. You could come off as a creep staring someone down like a mental patient.
Let me pause for a second to talk about the power of a look. You can turn a virtual dial from fear to comfort with a look. Note how a person reacts to a look. If someone can't look you in the eye that they are either distrusting, shy, or are hiding something. If someone can sustain prolonged eye contact they are very confident, trusting, and/or open. Controlling the look and reading the "response" is more art than science, so expect some trial and error.
Before using this at a networking event, practice for a bit till you feel comfortable. Make sure you are alone when you try this so you can keep focus. For the sake of time I am only going to discuss what I call the power look. To perform the power look lock eyes with some one on the same path, but traveling the opposite direction. For instance walking down a hallway at work or down a aisle at the grocery store. You must do this when the subject is as far as possible, and you must never break this gaze. Think of it as a game of chicken or medieval jousting. As you can imagine, this gets really uncomfortable really quick, but stay the urge to look away. Your heart will start to pump harder. Your adrenaline response will kick in, but don't break. Society's pressures will most likely cause the other person to avert their eyes first. This is when you know you have won.
At this point you are probably thinking that I am off my rocker. You might even know me and can't recall me doing this to you when we first met. As weird as this sounds most people have no idea what I am doing, and wont ever remember me doing it. I have to admit that I am pretty good at it now that I have been doing this for years. What this technique does is tap into primal urges and basic instincts, like fight or flight. When you try this you will see what I mean.
What do you do after you "win" this fake game that the other person was unaware they were playing? Well one of two things will happen. After a person is defeated they will either keep their eyes in another direction until you two have passed, or curiosity will over take them and they will look up to see if you are still staring back at them. I would say about 80% the latter is the case. This is what you want. At that moment give that person a warm welcoming smile. Trust me, you will get a smile back almost every single time.
When you feel ready whip this move out at your next networking event. The only modification is that after the smile you introduce yourself. You will be amazed what kind of conversation you will have after. I have a few theories why this works so well, but I won't get into those here. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.
I hope this tip helps when you attend your next networking event. What tips do you have? Does this help? Leave a comment and let me know.