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8 Basic But Effective Conversation Ice Breakers for Networking Events

By: SmallBizClub

 

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The art of starting a conversation is one that we rarely make a conscious effort to improve upon. It’s one of those skills that most people just get good at through constant repetition, or end up being one of those folks who always need a good wing-man (or woman) to make new introductions and get conversations flowing.

 
Learn From Mr. or Ms. Oblivious
 
The real key is to just get in there and do it. Ever met someone who just walked up to you and started talking about their interests, dreams, family—where they grew up, what they had for dinner last night, etc.?
 
You get the point…
 
Such folks seem woefully unaware that you have no interest in what they’re talking about at all, but they’re not afraid to put themselves out there—they’re quite unbound by inhibitions. I bring this up because if you’re looking for conversation starters, you likely don’t fit into this category.
 
In fact, most people who need to study, and try to brainstorm conversation starters are usually bound by a sense of insecurity, feeling like they’re just not that interesting. But you are interesting. You know you are. Your family, friends, coworkers, lovers all find you interesting, right?
 
So it’s all about getting out there, approaching people and just throwing anything at the wall until something sticks. Don’t overthink the process. People who truly want to network and share contacts and ideas with you aren’t going to bite you. Some will talk to you and some won’t.
 
There’s no super-secret formula for talking to people. Confidence is key, even if you have to fake it for a while.
 
Here’s some great conversation starters that you can use to get a professional conversation going. Try just a few, try them all.
 
  1. “Hi, my name is _____. You are?” Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with this one at all.
  2. “Hi there. I’m new and looking to meet people who work in ‘XYZ’ industry/company/country and thought I’d introduce myself. My name is _____. Yours is?” Don’t knock this one until you’ve tried it several times!
  3. “That’s an incredible looking shirt/jacket/slacks/skirt/pair of shoes/jewelry item/etc. Where did you get it/them?” Simple, yet effective, but does come with cautions attached. For instance, men should be very careful about complimenting a female stranger’s skirt. Stay away from compliments about body parts below the neckline in both sexes—we’re not going for a bar pickup here.
  4. “Can you believe this weather. Holy moly!” If you’re Canadian, you already use this convo starter on a daily basis. If you’re attending a Canadian networking event, or meeting Canadian business folk, these seven words are pure networking gold! The holy moly part can be omitted, or added to the front of the sentence instead, without losing any effectiveness.
  5. Quickly, yet casually point across the room at someone “Is that guy/girl a VIP/celebrity? I swear I’ve seen them on TV/in the newspaper/etc.” After the answer, go with one of the first four convo starters and you’ll be well on your way to getting to know someone!
  6. “Did you understand anything he/she said during that presentation?” If they retort with one of those why are you here kinds of looks: move on, it’s okay. You can’t win them all, and this is a great opening line at most conferences, since there’s always a boring presenter or topic that gets lots of bewildered looks from the crowd. Saunter up to the most confused-looking person and this line will net at least five minutes of effective jabber.
  7. After using one or a few of the first six convo starters “How did you meet XYZ company owner/manager?” or “How did you get involved with this company/organization/movement?” Really shy, bottled-up personalities might not give you much, whereas others will just love the opportunity to talk about their roots.
  8. Start with a basic introduction then “It’s noisy as heck here/over there isn’t it? Would you like to go sit down somewhere a little more quiet?” This is great for using on introverts. Look for someone who looks uncomfortable or out-of-place. They might be the best connection you make at the event. You never know!
 
Get in the Game
 
Remember, networking is a number’s game. While it might seem a little odd to look at meeting people like it’s a game, you can’t put every grain of hope you have into each and every interaction between you and another person or disappointment is sure to follow. If you get the brush off from somebody, don’t let it affect your confidence.
 
Move on, and keep moving until you find someone relatable. Oh, and don’t forget to smile – with your mouth and your eyes!
 
ivanwidjayaLGAuthor: Ivan Widjaya is the Founder/CEO of online marketing agency Previso Media and the owner of several small business online blogs/magazines, such as Noobpreneur.com, SMBCEO.com and BizEpic.com. He is a web publisher, web property investor, blogger and web property builder.
Published: November 12, 2014
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