Starting a conversation can be a bit daunting, especially with strangers or acquaintances you don’t see often. There’s always that uncertainty that holds us back — it could be shyness, lack of confidence or the fear that that other person may snob you because they don’t find you that interesting.
This dilemma is very common, especially during networking events where you have to go around and introduce yourself to other attendees. If you’re a newbie to these sorts of things, it’s normal to feel a bit flustered. Relax, we totally understand you.
The most difficult part is taking the first step. Once you get past that, you’re good to go. So how does one kickstart a really good exchange between two people?
Smile, and just say “hello.”
A pleasant and welcoming smile is a great weapon of choice all the time. No one could turn down a warm smile and an equally sincere, “Hello, how’s your day?” They could be having a good or a bad day, and having one person ask with genuine concern is enough for someone to open up and share how his or her day went.
Once the ice has been broken, gently ease into the introduction part.
“Oh, by the way, I am John. I am a Programmer. How about you?”
Asking people about what they do means you are interested in them. Talking about profession, work or hobbies allows people to open up, without being uncomfortable about sharing too much. If you’re at a conference where a melting pot of professions convene, you will be able to rub elbows with programmers, entrepreneurs, web designers, writers, speakers, authors, etc. You will never go wrong with the straight-up approach in order to start a conversation.
Throw a compliment their way.
“Oh, your necklace looks pretty. It complements your eyes.”
“I love your hair highlights. Where do you go for your hair care?”
Flattery works, even in formal situations such as networking conferences, or informal gatherings such as parties. People love talking about nice things that others notice about them. It’s easier to feel at ease when you know that at least you look good.
Of course, flattery doesn’t only work for the physical attributes. It’s a fool-proof conversation starter if you want to approach someone you admire for his work.
“Hello! I’ve read your book on entrepreneurship. I think it’s awesome. By the way, I am John.”
It’s wonderful to be appreciated for something you have accomplished, so, coming up to a stranger and telling them you enjoy their work or thinks that their business idea is great opens the door to an exciting discussion and sharing of ideas.
Talk about the event
Of course, you can talk about a shared experience. In that case, the networking event you’re currently at. You may mention a speaker, or a particular topic that has earned your interest, and even your lack of friends and acquaintances in this gathering.
“Hello, I honestly don’t know anyone here. I hope you don’t mind. I am John, how are you?”
“Hi, what about the event did you find the most valuable?”
People love to talk, and by asking an open-ended question, you have an opportunity to engage them in a longer and more meaningful conversation.
The hardest part really is finding the right thing to say so you could get the ball rolling. Once you can get it out of the way, we’re sure you’ll have a great time exchanging ideas with like-minded individuals in a networking event.
Do you have more conversation starters tips? Share them with us in the comments!
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