Easy Ice Breakers for Networking Events
My eNewsLetter, ‘Quantum Leap’ for the month of September 2014, is dedicated to Networking and contains 4 new articles. Here is how you can get on to my email subscription.
I think one of the hardest things about networking events is just getting a conversation going with someone – without being awkward about it.
Approaching someone new can be stressful – especially for introverts, like me – but it doesn’t have to be. Since I have overcome my blues, you too can. So, what are some natural and easy ways to break the ice? Here are some tips and tricks:
Go Fishing At The Food Table – While waiting in line for the food, start chatting up the person next to you. This is a great opportunity to get a conversation started because you already have something in common: the food. Everyone is thinking the same thing, What am I going to try? What looks good?
So, instead of just standing there in silence, start a conversation. Here are a few conversation starters for this situation:
“Oh man, everything looks so good… I am not sure what to get! What are you thinking?”
“Yummy, they have ___! Have you ever tried it?”
“Hmm, I am not quite sure what that dish is… do you know?”
Who knows, you might leave the buffet with a better plate of food AND a new contact! That’s a win-win in my book.
Find A Loner – If you see someone standing alone in the corner, clutching his or her drink, and looking miserable, don’t be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself. Typically, these people need a little help getting the conversation going.
Here are some ice breakers:
“Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?”
“Wow, there are a ton of people here! The food must be good, huh?”
If someone is standing alone, he or she is probably feeling uncomfortable or unconfident. If you initiate the conversation, it could make them feel more relaxed and willing to connect.
Compliment Them – Everyone loves compliments, especially when they are feeling insecure (and many people do feel that way when attending networking events). If you are struggling to start a conversation with someone, find something to compliment.
Here are some ideas:
“Yum, that drink looks good. What is it?”
“Cute shoes! Where did you get them?”
Talk About Sports – People love talking about sports. If you are a sports person, use it to your advantage!
See someone wearing a Red Sox cap? Say something like, “Red Sox fan, huh? Did you catch the game yesterday?”
Overhear a group of people talking about last night’s game? Express your interest in the conversation by saying something like, “Are you talking about… ?”, then chime in.
Just Say Hello – Sometimes, the easiest way to meet someone is to offer a handshake and say, “Hi, I am Surya.” Simply introducing yourself with a smile and a dash of confidence can work wonders.
Keeping The Conversation Going – I know what you are thinking, Yes, yes, that’s all well and good, but how can I keep the conversation going after the initial question?
It’s easy! Talk about something else you have in common – the event itself! Here are some ideas:
“I am Surya, by the way, nice to meet you… ”
“So, is this your first time at one of these events?”
“So, how did you hear about this event?”
“What a great place for an event, huh? Have you ever been here before?”
After that, try learning more about them. Questions can include:
“Are you from the area?”
“What line of work are you in or trying to get in?”
Next step: get them talking. Remember, people generally like to talk about themselves. So, once they tell you what they do, ask questions about it. Here are a few:
“That’s very interesting… ”
“So, Gina. What drew you to that line of work?”
“What do you like about your job?”
“Why are you interested in working in that industry specifically?”
BONUS: Your Exit Strategy
It’s that time: your drink is dry and you are ready to move on. When the conversation starts to wind down, don’t try to force more. Remember, you are there to mix and mingle – don’t chain yourself to one person all night.
If you’d like to exit a conversation, try one of these lines:
“Alright, I am going to get some food now that the line has died down a bit. It was great meeting you!”
“Have you met Lisa? She works in your industry as well. I am sure you both will have plenty to talk about. I have got to say hello to someone, but I’ll be back.”
“Well, I think it’s time for me to head out. I would love to talk with you again, though. May I have your card/contact information?”
For more great networking tips, check out the articles in my upcoming eNewsLetter (due out on September 05th 2014), ‘Quantum Leap’ (subscribe here if you haven’t already):
- Networking Blues
- Seven Step Plan to Get Going with Networking
- Plant a Seed and Watch Your Business Grow
- Becoming a Networking Guru