7 Ways to Get Results at Mixers

Contributed by:  David M. DeLeeuw
Publisher of The Chamber Link

A core message I repeat in every edition of The Chamber Link’s newsletters is, “Mixing Will Increase Your Business.” I say it because it is my experience. Yet, I meet people who just don’t go, or who go and hang out at the food table all night and then say that it was a waste of time. Not for me…

Mixing always increases my business. In over 20 years, I don’t think I’ve been to a mixer that didn’t reward me with at least one new client. Mixing will increase your business too and here are 7 ways to help you succeed:

#1 – GO! I don’t mean to be flippant but you’d be surprised how often people talk themselves out of going to a mixer. The excuses we use are plentiful but what’s stopping so many of us otherwise bold and savvy business people from going usually boils down to FEAR. Entering “A room full of strangers,” is identified as our #1 fear by Susan RoAne, author of The Silver Anniversary edition of How To Work a Room®

In my Mixing 101 workshop, I give several proven tools for overcoming this fear, but for now – if all fear were eliminated, and if you felt fully confident in your ability to handle yourself at a mixing event – you’d go, right?

#2 – Have a before mixing checklist. When you feel prepared, you feel at ease and then you will perform at your best and enjoy the experience. Here are some items from my Mixing 101 checklist:

  • Business Cards – a stack in your pocket or purse, plus a box in your car for if you need more.
  • The right pen – one that can write on glossy business cards without smudging.
  • Breath Spray – to use frequently throughout the event.
  • Brief ‘sound bites’ from your elevator speech.

#3 – Have a goal in mind. Whenever I go to a mixer, my goal is to meet 5 to 10 business leads. Your goal may be leads for donors if you are a non-profit, or maybe leads for volunteers. Whatever you are focused on – have a goal to strive for. And this is important – avoid the yummy food table until you are close to achieving your goal. Why?: Let the goodies be your reward and you don’t have to worry about speed-chewing or food flying out of your mouth while conversing!

#4 – Say “Hello.” Go up to someone and introduce yourself. This is difficult for some, but know that mixers are events where it is ok to approach someone you don’t know and start a conversation. It is the purpose of the event. Yes, there is that initial fear of rejection, we all have it, but rejection rarely happens at mixers. So go ahead and smile at someone, extend your hand for a shake, look the person in the eyes and say, “Hello!”

#5 – Have brief normal conversations. You’ve heard you should prepare your 30 second elevator speech, but for many this just causes undue performance anxiety. It also makes for conversation that doesn’t feel natural. Instead, break your elevator speech into short ‘sound-bites’ that can be worked in to a natural conversation.

#6 – Listen more than you are talking. Learn about the people you meet, what they do and whether or not they are viable prospects for you, and if they are – refrain from giving your whole sales pitch. Instead, simply swap business cards and ask that they agree to take your call when you follow up in a day or two. A prospect that agrees to take your call is a hot lead. Score! That’s the first of your 5 to 10 leads goal.

#7 Move On – Don’t get stuck in the ‘really good conversation’ trap. Put your hand out for another shake, smile and say, “It’s so great meeting you, I’ll call you tomorrow,” and then go make another contact. It is OK to exit conversations at a mixer as freely as it is to enter them.

Have fun and meet your new leads. You know some will become clients. Then have your well-deserved treats at the food table!

I wrote this article for the December 2014/January 2015 edition of the Oakland Business Review and it is reprinted here with permission.