No matter what profession you are in, you can’t avoid networking. It’s key to professional success, but it often pushes past our comfort zone. Making connections at conferences and business events can be daunting and nerve-wracking. What are good conversations starters for networking?
Some people are born networkers, but for the majority of the world, it is an acquired skill. It requires learning, training and long practice. Therefore, let’s start with a few basic strategies.
Do your homework
Come prepared. Find out who will be at the event, who the speakers are and what they’re talking about. Doing your homework before the event will help you come up with a few good questions you can use as conversation starters for networking.
Seize the opportunity
Everybody likes talking about food, right? Buffets are a excellent opportunity to get the conversation started. Rather than standing in line waiting for food, start a conversation about the topic everyone has in mind: food. You might win not only a new connection, but a lunch companion too.
Lose the elevator pitch
People rarely want to hear a sales pitch. Will they even remember it? Good networking is about connection and conversation. Instead of memorizing some clever phrasing crafted by the marketing department, propose an engaging conversation. Ask questions, listen and throw in a personal story or anecdote to make it more memorable.
Have follow-up questions ready
A killer opening line is only that, a starter. This is particularly true if you approach an introvert. Shy people may activate their defense mechanism upon hearing your conversation starter. Have a follow-up question ready to give introverted people time to warm up and continue the conversation.
9 bulletproof conversation starters for networking
The following conversation starters for networking have been tried and tested in the field by veteran business travelers. Putting them into practice only takes a little bit of courage and a smile.
“Hi, I’m Paul.”
That’s it. Simple, but it works. Remember to give a firm handshake.
“Is this your first time at the event?”
Finding common ground is the easiest conversation starter for networking.
“I’m really keen to hearing this speaker.”
Disclosing something about yourself establishes approachability, and it will encourage others to do the same.
“That’s a great necklace.”
Compliment people on their clothes and accessories. A flattering remark will make anyone let their guard down while being a great conversation starter.
“Did you see that wacky app at the demo booth?”
Tech conferences in particular will offer plenty of new apps and products to get hands-on. These give you the opportunity to lead the way to the demo both and share experiences with your new acquaintance.
“So, what do you do when you’re not here?”
This line might be intimidating, but it can also lead to more personal and remarkable conversations.
“Did you catch the game last night?”
Sports or a TV show are good topics to break the ice without talking shop.
“Are you following the discussion on Twitter?”
If a conference is being discussed online, you might find excellent conversation starter to take the discussion to real life.
“Hi, have you met Ted?”
If you travel with a colleague, let them be your wingman to introduce you. At least, It totally works in sit-coms.