Several years ago I was working in the social media space and had to give tons of pitches to different PE, VC, and Angel groups. The content of the pitch was pretty much the same each time, however, after a while it was getting stale.
The content itself was great, but after doing it over 100 times it got OLD fast. I came up with a way to liven it up. I told our head of business development to slide me a piece of paper right before I started with a completely unrelated word written on it. My goal was to try and work that word into the presentation somehow that didn't sound forced or out of place. Some of the words I can remember are: spoon, jellyfish, genuflect, shaving cream, and satchel
It worked like a charm. My presentations started coming alive again when we started playing this little game!
I also started using little games when I would go to networking events. As outgoing and friendly as I am, I would often find myself gravitating toward groups where I already knew most of the people and turning the night into a hangout event with some acquaintances instead of getting out of the comfort zone and meeting new people.
Here are a few examples of ways you can turn networking events into games to make them more fun and to provide a way to quantify you experience so it can be measured. (Yes...I went there...I am a complete nerd.)
Not all of these will work at every networking event. You will need to tailor your game to the environment and people that are attending.
- Get a colleague to play along and challenge each other to find someone that has done the most dangerous thing in their life. This is a GREAT way to talk about stuff other than work.
- Set a goal of meeting X number of people.
- Set a goal of meeting X number of people with a certain title.
- Use my word game and trade words with a colleague that you MUST work into every conversation during the night.
- Make a goal to meet the keynote speaker of the event and get his/her information.
The point isn't to win every single challenge, but to get yourself psyched up to head into what would otherwise be a very vanilla networking event.
What you will notice after doing this for several months is that you won't need the games anymore. You will have retrained yourself to be a master networker at these events. Each event will start to look different to you and you will be way more confident in your approach.
Would love to hear if anyone else has done something similar. Also, would love to hear ideas about different games you could play at these events.