Four Simple Conversation Starters For Networking Events
You’ve been asked by your boss to attend a networking event!
Does fear set in at the very word 'networking'? Do you view these events with a sense of dread? Are you worried about attending one on your own and not knowing anyone there?
PR Consultancy is ALL about networking so, unless you want to hide in the toilet every time, you're going to have to join in.
Added on 22.03.2019
People tend to worry far too much about having a good 'ice breaker' to kick-start a conversation, but these really aren't necessary.
Here are some incredibly simple but also very effective tips to get a conversation flowing.
Entering: 'Hi, do you mind if I join you?'
Couldn't be more obvious, could it? But this is one of the easiest ways to join a conversation, because people will always welcome you in. No one is going to say, ‘No, sorry, we're busy’.
Almost certainly someone will then either ask you a question, or make a remark to include you in the existing conversation, and you're off.
Introductions: 'What are you responsible for?'
If this has not come up already, then always ask this early on. You'll usually get a job title or quick description and an idea of the sector the person is in. If not, then ask 'What sectors do you cover?'
If there's a topical issue that you know of in that sector your next question can be...
'How have you been affected by [issue]?'
If not, then another generic question...
‘What challenges are you facing currently?’
...will get you the same information. With any luck you will be able to relate this issue to your work, find some common ground, and you can then progress into a meaningful conversation.
Getting them to open up: 'That sounds hard.'
This one is great and can be used as a quick reply to so many statements to keep the other person talking and you listening. It not only flatters the person you're talking to but also invites them to give more detail about their recent day-to-day tasks, and gives you some insight into their personality and their approach to work. Not bad for three words!
Getting more detail: 'That's interesting. Can you tell me more about...'
You'll probably seldom need this, as the person you're talking to will hopefully have opened up already and you will have any number of things you can say to keep a good conversation flowing. However you can use this to get further information on the topic at hand, or to thank them for the information provided whilst opening up a new topic.
The more the other person speaks, the more they will start to bond with you (we all like good listeners, because we all like to talk about ourselves), and the more you can learn about them.
After the event: remember to follow up
Make sure the follow up is personal, and ideally mention what you discussed, any key points you found out about them, and also shared interests and other things you had in common.
If you use these simple suggestions you will not only make good business contacts, but also very likely some friends along the way - you’ll know all about them and what makes them tick (and equally, what gets their back up).