The Meet and Greet

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Meet and Greet functions provide an excellent opportunity to network. Many local organizations host meet and greets and you should be ready to participate in these functions with understanding that there are crucial steps and considerations to take when in the Meet and Greet situation. In this module, you will learn the following:

  • The Three-Step Process of Meet and Greets
  • The four levels of conversation
  • Use these skills in a case study

Understanding the process involved in meeting and greeting is our first discussion in this module.

The Three-Step Process

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The purpose of meet and greets is to mingle and meet as many people as you can during the time allotted. When there is not a strategy in place for meeting and greeting people, this could result in inefficiency in meeting new people. The goal is to meet with someone, talk with them for a few minutes, and then politely move to the next person. 

Having a strategy for meeting and greeting people is helpful. A possible strategy to adopt is the Three M approach. In this approach you meet the person, monitor the conversation and then move on to the next person. 

Here are some more details on this strategy:

  • Meet–  you introduce yourself and share some information about yourself. You create a great first impression by using some of the techniques mentioned earlier. Finally, you engage the person by asking questions that focus on them instead of you.
  • Monitor– you should remain focused on the discussion. If you see the conversation becoming off topic or that the conversation is slowing down, then you need to move on. If you have a goal to meet a certain amount of people for that event, then plan a certain amount of time you will spend with each person. Either way, you need to monitor the conversation to determine when the conversation is becoming counterproductive.
  • Move on– when the time is right, break the conversation politely and move on to the next person. Being honest is the best policy. You may need to tell the person you are speaking with that you wish to meet other people. Hand them a business card and offer to meet with them on another occasion (this is optional). Thank the person you are speaking with and then continue mingling. 

The Four Levels of Conversation

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Communication among us humans can occur at four distinct levels. Understanding these levels will help you determine how you want to communicate. This in turn will help you plan your topics for discussion and avoid discussion that could be seen as negative.

There are four levels of conversation based on the degree and amount of personal disclosure. They are:

  1. Small Talk: This is commonly referred to as the ‘exchange of pleasantries’ stage. In this level, you talk only about generic topics, subjects that almost everyone is comfortable discussing. These subjects include the weather, the location you’re both in and current events. 

The small talk stage establishes rapport; it makes a person feel at ease with you. It’s also a safe and neutral avenue for people to subtly ‘size up’ one another, and explore if it’s a conversation or relationship that they’d want to invest in. 

If the small talk goes well, you can proceed into the next level: fact disclosure.

  1. Fact Disclosure: In this stage, you tell the other person some facts about you such as your job, your area of residence and your interests. 

This is a ‘getting-to-know’ stage, and it aims to see if you have something in common with the other person. It’s also a signal that you are opening up a little bit to the other person while still staying on neutral topics. 

If the fact disclosure stage goes well, you can proceed to sharing viewpoints and opinions.

  1. Viewpoints and Opinions: In this stage of the conversation, you can offer what you think about various topics like politics, the new business model —or even the latest blockbuster. It helps then to read and be curious about many things, from politics to entertainment to current events.

Sharing viewpoints and opinions require the ‘buffering effect’ of the first two stages for two reasons: 

  • First, a person needs rapport with another before they can discuss potentially contentious statements, even if they’re having a healthy debate. 
  • Second, sharing viewpoints and opinions opens a person to the scrutiny of another, and this requires that there is some level of safety and trust in a relationship.

The controversial, and therefore potentially offensive, nature of an opinion exists in a range; make sure that you remain within the ‘safe’ zone in the early stages of your relationship.

  1. Personal Feelings: The fourth stage is disclosure and acknowledgment of personal feelings. For instance you can share about your excitement for the new project, or your worry about your son’s upcoming piano recital. Depending on the context and the level of the friendship, you can disclose more personal subjects. This stage requires trust, rapport, and even a genuine friendship, because of the intimate nature of the subject. 

Different people have different comfort levels when it comes to disclosing feelings, and there are cases when you’d need several conversations before they would trust enough to open themselves. In some cases, you never get to this stage. Just make sure to be sensitive and test the other person’s readiness before opening an intimate topic. 

Listening is vital in all stages of the conversation but especially so in this fourth stage. Listen with empathy and understanding to acknowledge that you heard the feeling that they have shared.

At any given time, you can be engaged in any or all of these levels. Nonetheless, understanding what each level is helps you better strategize your approach to meeting people. For example, you can plan an opening discussion after you introduce yourself around a current event. You can review a topic in advance and be prepared for that conversation. Next, you can plan to have a brief discussion about yourself. Again, you can plan what you want to say about yourself and focus on those items only. Finally, the last part of your discussion could focus on your product or service you represent. 

Understanding the levels of conversation will help you plan the specific topics you want to discuss and approach the meet and greet with a level of security that is no easy to achieve. 

Case Study (I)

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In this scenario, John seemed unprepared for the meet and greet. Overall, he did not do a very good job of networking. The two men listened to him, but they did not engage or find his discussion interesting.

Here are some things John did well:

  • He had enthusiasm to go a meet and greet.
  • John had the right focus for his discussion.
  • John attempted to network.

Here are some things John needs to improve:

  • John needs to focus on the function and remove distractions (cell phone call).
  • John needs to have a plan in place before he gets there. He should have known there would have been people he did not know there.
  • John should have prepared a quick introduction.
  • John should have asked questions of the two men instead of speaking about himself.
  • John should have offered his business card upfront so he would not have to fumble for it if the party decides to leave.

Case Study (II)

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Patrick: Hi, I’ve seen you looking at the golf display. You must be a golfer. 

Mindy: (laughs) Oh, no! I was just admiring the display. Hi, I’m Mindy. 

Patrick: I’m Patrick. Pleased to meet you… This is a great assembly we’re having. 

Mindy: Yes, it is. Moreover, the Continental seems like a good place for it too. Is this your first time in the assembly?

Patrick: Yes, it is. I wanted to go last year but our company felt the venue is too far for me. I work with DataCorp, based in San Diego. 

Mindy: DataCorp? Yeah, I saw your company name by the registration table. I think we’re going to the same conference. I am with ManualWorks, in Maine. This is our third time; we went last year and the year before as well. 

Patrick: Oh, so you’re a veteran to these things! I’m new, but I like it so far. The registration was well organized and the program they sent looks comprehensive. It’s good the committee is taking the conference seriously. 

Mindy: Yes, it’s well organized. I think they’re getting better as they go along. In addition, the program looks more interesting. Last year wasn’t as good, to be honest. 

Patrick: How was it not as good?

Mindy: The topics are a bit outdated. In fact, when I heard that we’re going again, I was a bit annoyed. I didn’t want to waste another week with a bad conference. However, am delighted I did, it promises to be different this time. 

Case Study 

Cassie stood looking at herself in the mirror, pretending to have a conversation. Angela heard her speaking, but didn’t see anyone with her. Angela looked quizzically at Cassie. Cassie explained she’d been practicing for the Meet and Greet. Angela scoffed at the idea. Words had always come easily for Angela. Cassie shrugged and looked back at the mirror. Angela stepped in and offered to role play with her. Cassie liked that idea and they started mock conversations. It only took seconds before Cassie and Angela were soon chatting like birds of a feather. Angela wanted to test their theory and called in Heather. Heather agreed to join in the practice session and, again, the conversation ran smoothly. Cassie couldn’t have been more delighted. Practicing made her attempts almost perfect.