“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
We’ve all seen the corny pick up lines – and those are not the lines you want to be pulling out of your magic networking hat when you meet someone you want to get to know better!
It can be difficult to start a conversation with a stranger. Even worse, it can be harder when you know you’re expected to talk to this stranger about yourself!
Be worried no longer, I have some techniques you can use that won’t leave you looking like this is your first time around the networking block – even if it is!
Start by confidently walking up the the person you want to talk to. Extend your hand, ready for a solid handshake, and introduce yourself. You may say something like “I don’t believe we’ve met before.” or “Didn’t I see you at the Chamber After-Hourse event?”
Depending on where you are, you may or may not be wearing name tags. If you have name tags, address the person by name. If not, they will most likely introduce themselves. But, if not, it’s perfectly fine to ask for their name.
You already have something in common with the person you’re talking to. You’re in the same place! Whether it’s a coffee shop where you’re about to get into your first double-shot espresso of the day, or a banquet hall where you’ve come to support your favorite non-profit’s fundraiser. You are in the same place, with a common interest. Coffee. Or the non-profit you support. There you have a talking point.
Remember my cardinal rule of networking. It’s not about you. The only other person in the room with you is the person you are talking to. You may start a conversation by asking how they came to be in the line of business they are in. You may ask if they are local, or if they had to travel to get here. Both the venue and the occasion will have a bearing on where the conversation goes. If you’re at a regular networking meeting that you have never been to before, it’s a good idea to start a conversation by asking someone if they can introduce you to a few people. Everybody loves a newbie!
Ask, ask, ask
Ask for a business card. Ask for referrals. Ask if you can follow up with them at another time. Ask for details on other networking events. Ask, ask, ask!
That’s all folks!
There are as many ways to start a conversation as there are venues a conversation can be started in.
I always remind people that they are always networking. Whether you’re grocery shopping, or at an organized networking meeting – there’s always an opportunity to start a conversation! You are your own best advertisement. Don’t let it pass you by, or you may end up complaining about “the one that got away”!