Two years ago, I attended a women’s event as a guest of a lovely friend. Given she is the president of the organization, she was beyond busy when I arrived, so I milled around, visiting some of the information tables and not knowing one single person in the room.
Until one of my ever-so-friendly customers walked into the room.
As a veteran of the organization herself, she could have said hello to me then joined her friend groups.
Instead, she welcomed me very warmly, then personally walked me around to meet numerous members of the organization.
She mattered to me so much that evening.
I would have figured things out on my own, but it would have been a different and potentially more awkward evening.
She made a difference for me.
She positively impacted the quality and comfort of my experience.
Similarly, almost 20 years ago when I started breaking into the business networking scene, I arrived at a before-hours event and knew no one.
A gentleman approach me, introduced himself, asked me some questions, then said, enthusiastically, “Come on, let me introduce you to some people.”
Then, when the program was ready to begin, he said, “Come on. Join our table.”
I was so grateful. This one morning set the stage for my attendance at all future events with this organization. From this day forward, I knew people when I walked into the room.
And finally, recently, I attended a women’s luncheon. Surprisingly, another crowd of women who were not highly familiar to me.
As I stood at the registration table getting checked in, I made eye contact briefly with one woman I had known of for years but met only recently. At first glance, she was the only woman in the room that I knew.
As soon as she saw me, she came running over to greet me, gave me the lay of the land, shared where I could sit and introduced me to a couple of people.
This is Proactive Welcoming.
It’s about being on the lookout.
Some women do this very well, and others not so much.
I’m sure you’ve walked into businesses or social situations where you stand for several minutes, and no one even looks up. Or if they see you but happen to be in a conversation, they make no acknowledgment. Let’s call this Proactive Ignoring.
This past week over one dozen women filled out a “Tell Me About Yourself” survey on my website at https://aletanorris.com/tribe/tell-me-about-you/.
Every one of them mentioned something about their quality of friendships. They shared comments like:
- “I have many friends but no one to truly count on.”
- “I don’t get invited places.”
- “I’ve been so busy, I haven’t given friendships attention. Now I find myself virtually alone. I wish I had a really close friend.
- “I have a couple of close friends in the last two months, and I finally feel like I’m going somewhere.”
- “I’ve never been on a girls’ weekend. I’m afraid I never will.”
By the way, I wrote a blog last week called Have A Friend, Be A Friend. You can check it out at https://aletanorris.com/have-a-friend-be-a-friend/
So, how can you become a Proactive Welcomer?
A Few Ideas To Be More Welcoming
1: Say the words, “Welcome, I’m glad you’re here!”
When I met Nancy, my business partner, over 25 years ago, she hosted me, my husband and our three kids for a dinner at her home. When we approached her home for the first time ever and rang the doorbell, she opened the door and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here!”
Now, if you’re not accustomed to that (like me), it stands out. Warm, welcoming, inviting, friendly. All of these things create a sense of belonging.
You can add lots of twists to this.
If you’re meeting for coffee, “I’m so glad we’re catching up.”
If you meet someone or run into someone at a networking event, “I’m so glad I’ve had a chance to run into you.”
Make other women feel important.
A couple of my friends send a text EVERY time we meet to say, “I loved our time together.”
2: Be really generous with “Come and join us.”
Wherever you happen to be, you will almost always find the women who are alone. Standing alone at an event. Working alone at work. Going to lunch alone.
And please keep in mind that being alone can be a really awkward situation.
Don’t allow it. Being a proactive welcomer means you are looking for opportunities to bring someone into the fold, to have them join your group.
If you’re in the middle of a conversation and catch someone out of the corner of your eye, you can even make a gesture to wave them over. Or walk over to them and say, “Hey, come and join us, meet some new people.”
If you’re at work, and someone new joins the team, “Come and join us for lunch!”
I talked to a woman recently who said it’s a known reality at her company that it takes about 90 days to feel welcome and part of the group. What? That should never happen!
Let’s ensure women go home at the end of day one (or anyone for that matter!) and report to their spouse or significant other or friends, “I felt so welcome by everyone.”
3: Shift from being unaware to being aware.
Being unaware of what’s going on around you is really easy.
Enjoying the chatter of your group of friends is comfortable.
We’re wired to seek joy and happiness. Oh, and a sense of belonging.
When we have it, it’s easy to settle in and put on the blinders to the rest of the world.
Challenge yourself to stop resting in the laurels of your own comfort, joy and happiness.
Think about others.
Pay attention. Lift your head up every once in awhile and look around. Be the lovely woman who notices the alone people. Oh, and certainly, being alone does not always mean lonely and uncomfortable. Just to be clear. More often than not, however, you’ll never offend another woman for caring about her.
As a way of life, have an interest in the women around you. Notice them, welcome them, ask them questions, get acquainted, and take a stand against loneliness for others.
Show women they matter.
I encourage you to be a daymaker in the lives of other women. Lots of them!
As with everything, I wish you the best, wrapped in happiness, confidence and purposeful living.
Join my Women Who Spark Tribe Facebook Community to become part of a supportive group of women….seeking positivity and productivity in life, just like you.
If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to my research on women’s fulfillment, you can find my survey at aletanorris.com/tribe.
Great post! I used to attend a LOT of business networking events. One friend said she liked bringing me because I didn’t wait for her to introduce me. She knew I was fine alone and would mix on my own as she chatted up her clients and friends. Once, a reporter friend and I took a news intern to an after-hours. We introduced her to a few people, then I gave her the assignment to go meet and get business cards from 5 people new to her. She blew it away, chatting up probably a dozen people. People at these events want to meet you. They want to share about their businesses and learn about yours. And sometimes you click as more than just potential business acquaintances! But yes, it is awesome to be a welcomer to the people you see standing alone looking lost, recognizing that we’ve all been the new person at some time!