Networking is a key part of establishing and maintaining a successful career. When you’re searching for a new job, attending networking events can help you form a web of contacts who can connect you to good job opportunities. Even experienced networkers, however, sometimes struggle to find ways to open conversations and engage the people around them. Before your next networking event, arm yourself with the following icebreakers to make sure you’re never at a loss for something to say:
Talk about where you are.
The location of the networking event can offer you plenty of good conversation starters. At an event you’ve been attending for years, you might ask how someone thinks the current function compares to previous iterations. You can also inquire how far someone traveled to get there or whether he or she knows the area. If you’re networking after a presentation of some kind, you can also query your new contact about what he or she thought of it and go from there
Pair a compliment and a question.
If you find something interesting or impressive about a person, whether it’s an aspect of their appearance or something they said previously, let him or her know. Then, follow up your compliment with a question. If you like someone’s clothes, for instance, you might ask where he or she got them or whether they’re comfortable. Once you break the ice, you can move on to more substantive subjects.
Ask for help or advice.
When you ask someone for advice or help, you start a conversation and create a chance to get useful information. If you’re a first-timer at an event, for instance, you might want to ask whether the person you’re talking to has attended before and whether he or she has any tips for you. You can also try asking what they find valuable about the event.