Even at an event specifically designed for job networking, starting a conversation can be difficult. Luckily, once you have a little practice and a few tried-and-true openers under your belt, it gets easier. Consider using one of the following conversation starters to get things going at your next networking event.
– “I think I’m going to grab some food. Want to join in?” A lot of networking events have food of some kind, and the food poses a great opportunity for starting a conversation. You can begin by talking about what’s in front of you, which dishes look good, and what you like, then transition into a more businesslike conversation once the ice is broken.
– “So what brings you here?” Simply introducing yourself and asking the other person why they’ve come to the event is a great way to start a conversation. Snappy lines have their place, but they’re not necessary, particularly if you memorize the person’s name and follow up later on.
– “Those shoes look great.” Complimenting someone can help you start a conversation if you’re struggling to find an inroad. Many people feel a little uncomfortable at networking events, so a quick self-esteem boost may be well appreciated.
– “Can I introduce you to my friend?” Often, networking in pairs helps you get things going, because you and your friend can introduce one another to potential contacts. Just make sure that you work out how you’re going to cooperate ahead of time. You don’t want to end up stealing each other’s thunder all night long.
– “Man, this is intense!” If you notice someone hanging back and looking uncomfortable, you may be able to establish a friendly rapport by commiserating with him or her about how stressful networking can be. Once you start the conversation, the other person may open up quickly.