The good news is starting a conversation, even at a networking event, is easier than you think. While the classic “Hi, I’m ___. Nice to meet you” can work, you can also expand on your collection of conversation starters with these eight tips.
“How’s your day going?”
Another classic, but highly effective, especially if you deliver it with a smile. One thing most humans have in common is we love when someone is genuinely interested in how we’re doing. Be the person with the interest and get others talking in no time.
“How did you hear about this event?”
Talking about the venue is an easy point of common reference. Whether you mention how hot or cold it is, praise the décor or ask how someone else arrived, you’ve got an easy way in to a conversation.
“What do you think about [news topic related to the event]?”
Most people at networking events aren’t looking to start a political debate, asking about a news event related to your field can often be an effective way to get others talking.
“So, was it tough for you to get here?”
It doesn’t matter where the networking event is located; everyone has an opinion about public transportation, parking, the weather or the state of the roads.
“This event sure is busy. Mind if I join you over here, where it’s a little quieter?”
This approach is a terrific way to get to know the introvert in the room, who may not be mingling but who may nevertheless be a treasure trove of information.
“I just came for the carrot sticks.”
Starting with a joke can help ease the awkwardness, especially if you follow up with a classic conversation starter like, “How did you hear about this event?”
“Can you recommend a good restaurant around here? I think I’d like to get dinner after this.”
Even if the other person is also a stranger to the area, you’ll have found an area of common ground you can discuss as an opening to a conversation.
“Aren’t you friends with [name]?”
If the person is connected to someone you know, this conversation starter works well—and if they’re not, at least you’ve started a conversation.
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