“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
One of the hardest things about networking events, for the shy and outgoing alike, is simply getting the conversation started. Once we’re going it’s fine, but it’s the icebreaker sentence that’s often the hardest to master.
Researching some conversation starters ahead of time is an excellent way to prepare. You can even write a few ideas on a piece of paper to keep in your pocket. Whip them out for a quick reminder before you approach someone, and you’ll be able to launch into a natural conversation that isn’t awkward.
Here are some tried and true conversation starters to get you started.
The location, the event, the food and the crowd are always good icebreaking topics because they are neutral territory. You immediately have something in common with the other person just by being there.
· “These salmon sandwiches are delicious, have you tried them?”
· “This is a lovely place, have you been here before?”
· “It’s so hot today, thank goodness we can stay in the air conditioning for a while!”
Local current affairs
When you’re at the same event as someone, chances are you live in close proximity to one another. Again, you have something in common already. Talk about something that has happened in the local area recently.
· “Wow, those storms last week were crazy, weren’t they? Did you have any damage to your house?”
· “Did you see the big truck accident on the main road? It took me ages to get here this morning”
· “Did you hear about the new restaurant that opened in town last week? It looks amazing”
Find someone solo
You’ll often see someone standing alone on the outskirts of a networking event. Go and join them – they’ll probably appreciate you making the first move.
· “Wow, it’s so noisy over there! Mind if I come and join you for some peace?”
· “It’s so busy here – I think I’ll wait till the crowd has died down before I get some food”
Just say hello
You don’t always need a mutual topic in common to get the conversation started. Sometimes it’s just as easy as saying hello and introducing yourself.
· “Hi, this is my first networking event. I’m Andy, nice to meet you…”
· “Hi, I’m Melissa. I came on my own today and don’t know anyone else here. Do you?”
Remember, once the conversation gets going, it’s easy to sustain as long as you keep asking questions. Be yourself, relax and enjoy yourself, and you never know who you might meet!
If you would like to learn these conversation starters and more please join us for the 1 Day Business Networking Skills Course. You can register here.