Any professional get together can become a networking opportunity. Whether you are at breakfast/lunch events, workshops, seminars, multi-day conventions, or even networking happy hours are rich with prospective connection.
But what if you’re a shy or reserved person? Maybe you feel awkward or tongue tied initiating conversations with complete strangers? That was me when I first started attending events to network and market my new business. I also found opening with “what do you do?” to be rather abrupt and clumsy. After many years of meeting hundreds of people, I have several go-to conversation starters that have never failed me.
There are 5 different approaches that I use and I mix them up to create a fluid conversation. The tone should be kept neutral, positive and ask questions to help the other person participate in the conversation.
1) Compliment the other person
“Thoser are great looking shoes. Are they comfortable?”
“That’s a nice looking watch. Do you prefer it over looking at the clock on your cellphone?”
2) Comment on a shared experience
“How did you hear about this event?”
“Wow. That was a great speech. What do you think?”
3) Ask for information
“Do you know who the next speaker is going to be?”
“Do you know when the doors will be open tomorrow?”
4) Get opinion
“How are you liking this event so far?”
“Have you gone through any of the programs before? What do you think?”
5) Offer help
“Would you like me to save you a seat?”
“Can I get you a glass of water?”
Relax and enjoy getting to know someone new and getting out of your comfort zone.