Depending on your personality, meeting new contacts at networking events can be pretty difficult. Even when you know the people you approach are looking for contacts too, it’s easy to get intimidated. Add on potential exhaustion from a day of workshops at a conference, and many people end up in the corner sipping punch. Luckily, even the most introverted people can learn from those to whom networking comes naturally.
Try the following conversation starters to meet people at a networking event:
—“What do you do?” This question naturally moves a conversation in the direction of someone’s career, thus giving you a good opportunity to gauge whether or not the person you’re talking to would make a good contact.
—“What brought you here?” Uncovering the connection a person has to an event can sometimes lead to a discussion of shared interests or acquaintances.
—“What are you up to outside of work?” People usually like talking about their passions, and this question can revive a moribund conversation and lead to a deeper connection with your new contact.
—“How did you get started in your career?” Again, this question reaches beyond the simple exchange of professional information and gets you closer to a person. It can also make for a more interesting conversation after a day spent going over your biography to strangers over and over again.
—“How’s your day going?” People often appreciate this starter, especially if you deliver it with a genuine smile.
—“Wow, the food here is fantastic!” Though useful only if the facility is actually serving food, this starter consistently gets conversations moving.
—“What do you think about [a piece of news relevant to the event]?” Conversations about current events make great conversation starters, as long as the event in question isn’t too controversial.