You get what you deserve when you try and overstretch your social circle, don't you? I ended up at a party where I knew the grand total of one person. We all know that these situations are totally awesome, because it's equally true that nobody knows you.
Hanging on to the one person you know is utterly out of the question - they didn't bring you there for your barnacle impression. So what's a researcher to do?
"Hey, nice to meet you. So if you could be an animal, which animal would you be?"
"Hmm, like anything?"
"Sure, I haven't made the rules for this yet"
"Nice! Best answer I've heard all night! What's your name?"
A cheetah. A lemur. Then they got better: animals with reasons. Extinct animals. Fictional animals. A nice little game to play to let people open up.
The payoff came when I was in a conversation with some I'd just met, and someone I hadn't met came up and asked them The Question. It had begun to spread itself, taken on a life of its own.
Not everybody wants to be 'on' when they're outside work, but it certainly pays to consider the power of what we're doing, and the idea that the noble art of 'stimulating conversations' can go beyond the bottom line.
What animal would you be? Probably not a turkey.
P.S: Mary's on the Twitter: "Joseph's looking at me funny today. Probably impossible to keep this one schtum any longer".