10 Great Icebreaking Ideas for Networking Events
Walking up to a person you’ve never met and making conversation is easy as pie for some people. Many people even enjoy that. For others, being forced to walk up to a stranger and talk about some arbitrary topic sounds worse than stepping on glass. But to network, you need to be able to schmooze and do it with strangers, especially when you are in a prestigious networking event.
Networking events can be crucial to promote your brand or services. Because you can meet potential clients or customers over there. But to make a fruitful conversation with these clients, you must have to come out of your comfort zone. All you need in such cases are some great Icebreaking Ideas that help you loosen up yourself a bit.
I consider myself a relatively social person, but I still get shy when I meet someone new. I am very jealous of people who can just walk right up to a group, stick out their hands and laugh at a joke within five minutes. Some people have it, and—well, some people need to work on it. Here is a list of ten icebreakers that will help you become more of a networking ninja.. or at least a networking ninja’s apprentice.
10 Excellent Icebreakers for Networking Events
1) Compliment other people at events
Complimenting someone on a stunning necklace or pair of shoes is a great way to break the ice. In fact, it is one of the easiest and proven ways to do networking in events.
You can observe a person in the event before complimenting to find something distinguishable or unique to talk about.
Once you compliment a person, the conversation will be in your favor as who doesn’t like compliments!
2) Comment on the food or ask them what they are drinking
Do you know what people love? Food and drinks. That is why most of the networking happens over the lunch or dinner table. While standing in the queue for food, try to make a healthy conversation.
If your target person to network with has a fun-looking drink, ask her what kind it is, or comment on how delicious (or bad) the food is. Here are few conversation starters in such a situation:
- Have you tried any of the food? What do you recommend?
- What is your favorite drink?
- Everything looks so Yummy! Can you suggest where I should start? etc. etc.
And who knows, you end up making good contact with a better plate of food at the end of the day! A win-win situation.
3) Ask People about their Goals, Work, and Ambitions
In networking events, everyone wants to tell other people about their brand, goals, and ambitions. But not everyone is open to starting the conversation.
In such scenarios, it is always great to ask others about their Work or Goals to begin a fruitful discussion.
When you ask someone what they like to do or their future plans, it gives you a chance to know that person better in a professional way. Also, the other person gets intrigued to know similar details about you, which is exactly your purpose of networking with someone.
Even if you know the answer, ask about it! And if you have connections to his company, be sure to mention them. And don’t forget to exchange business cards for staying in touch!
4) Ask them about their Favorite Speaker or Event Highlights
If you are out of questions in your mind while approaching someone in the networking event, then the best thing to discuss the event’s highlights, like:
- Who is your favorite speaker?
- Which of the speakers would you like to meet again?
- What did you like most about the event?
- What is the most influential and purposeful thing you learned since coming to this event?
- Which of the speakers have you enjoyed listening to so far?
Once you started talking about the particular networking event, then you can ask more questions related to such events, like
- Do you attend such conferences frequently?
- What do you think about such networking events?
- Do you find such networking events beneficial for your business? etc., etc.
5) Comment on their name
If she’s wearing a name tag, this is super easy. If her name is Kate, you can’t ask too many questions, but if she has a super exciting name, you could ask a question like, “What’s the origin of your name?” or “That’s a great name, are you named after someone?”
6) Talk about their Organization and Role
People usually love to talk about their organizations and work. So this can be an excellent ice-breaking conversation starter for any event.
Some impactful yet straightforward conversation starter lines you can use are:
- Which Organization are you representing in this event?
- From how much time you are with this organization?
- What is your role with the organization?
- What do you enjoy most about your job and company?
7) Talk about the weather or the temperature of the room.
People talk about the weather a lot. Besides that, complaining about the uncomfortable room temperature is a real bonding experience. Unite against a common enemy!
Think about how much of your workday is devoted to this subject and haggling over who should be the one to adjust the thermostat.
8) Bring up a big news event, especially if it has to do with their line of work
This works in two ways: It shows that you are up-to-date on current events and gets the conversation going. A win-win in two ways, too.
If you are in a business event, you can highlight or talk about any recent hot business collaboration to grab some attention.
Everyone loves to know what is happening around them and when someone initiates such conversation, everyone tries to be a part of it.
9) Ask People about their Passion, Hobbies, and Skills
This is the most common ice breaking idea that always works for introverts like You and me! Usually, people get really excited when someone asks them about their passion or skills.
Everyone talks about their work, goals, company, etc. So why not ask something different to make the conversation more fun and casual?
So if you are out of questions in any networking event or want to know a person in a better way, you can ask these simple questions to make the conversation exciting:
- What is the thing you are most passionate about?
- What is the newest skill have you learned recently?
- How would you like to spend your free time?
- Which skills do you think people overemphasize in this industry? etc., etc.
Pro Tip: If you know about the skills or passion they are talking about, try to reciprocate with excitement. Provide any helpful information to add value to your discussion. This way, a person will never forget their networking experience with you.
10) Keep the Conversation Going
Just Saying Hello is not enough when you are in a networking event as this is what everyone does in such events! So, to make a mark, try to keep the conversation as long as possible.
Talk about something you have in common, let’s say “An Event” itself. You can keep the conversation engaging by asking some usual questions about the event like:
- How did you come to know about this event?
- Have you attended this event before?
- Are you having a good time?
- So, is this your first time at this event? etc. etc.
Plan Your Exit Strategy
Never leave the conversation abruptly, as it will create a negative impact on others. If you are feeling you are running out of time or want to mingle with other people, simply take the exit from the conversation by using any of these lines:
- Ok, so I think it is time for me to head out, but I really enjoyed talking to you. I will connect with you soon for future collaborations.
- I have got to say hello to someone, but I will be back soon. It was a pleasure talking to you.
- I would like to take a leave now as I am running out of time. But I would love to meet you again in the future!
Some Protips You Must Follow to Ace a Networking Event
1. Look Approachable & Confident
In networking events, people always observe your body language and confidence before networking. This helps them to understand whether you are easily approachable or not!
Don’t feel shy or hide in the corner. Instead, try to stay cheerful, calm & confident so people can approach you easily. Take advantage of your pretty smile to look more attractive to people out there!
2. Find a Loner
For an introvert like us, it is always accessible and comfortable to network with another introvert! Find a loner in the event and try to converse with them first. Do not directly approach the bunch of people, especially if you are nervous.
Once you begin the conversation with a loner, you will feel more confident to network with other people.
Just like you, these loners also need someone to keep the conversation going, so it is a win-win situation for you both!
3. Begin the Conversation with a Handshake
Whenever someone networks with you or vice-versa, greet the person with a friendly handshake, eye contact, and pleasant smile. While shaking hands, try to remember their name or use it again in your conversation.
Never hand out your business card immediately to the person. First, try to build a relationship and then exchange cards so they can remember you for a long time.
4. Never Underestimate the power of an Eye Contact in Networking
Whenever you talk to someone in any event or party, try to make eye contact while listening to them. Because when you make eye contact, you look more attentive and serious towards the talk.
Pay attention to what they are talking about and show your curiosity by asking questions out of it.
5. Don’t forget to exchange business cards
Whenever heading to any networking event, don’t forget to carry your business cards. After having a healthy conversation with a person, always exchange your business cards. This will help you to stay in touch for future purposes.
6. Compliments can be Powerful
Every person has a story that they want to share with the World. The best way to hear their story is to compliment them first when meeting them in such events.
Compliments make the conversation smooth and fun. It is the universal icebreaker that works every time. All you need to do is just add some humor in it in your way & see the magic!
7. Prepare your 30-Seconds Elevator Speech
Networking events allow you to tell your story to other people in a most organized way. The best way to tell others about your business, goals, etc., is to prepare a 30-seconds elevator speech. So that you never go out of words when someone approaches you.
And who knows, you might get lucky to get a funding proposal from an investor after your speech!
7 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Networking Event Importance & Benefits
If you are still in doubt about why you should attend networking events, then all your doubts will get cleared after checking out these points.
1. Boost Your Confidence
Such Networking events indeed give a much-needed boost to your confidence. Especially when you are an introvert like me, all you need is an environment where you get challenged to interact with new people. Networking provides better business opportunities and collaborations.
Once you come out of your comfort zone, a sense of pride and confidence will overwhelm you, helping you in the future.
2. Chance to meet like-minded people
Networking events allow you to meet and interact with a new audience or bunch of people who can be potential clients.
Every time you attend any such event, you meet different people who have similar mindsets or skills.
It is always fun to interact with such people and learn from their stories.
3. A Plethora of New Opportunities to Explore
Every time you step up in a room full of business-minded people, you get a chance to explore a plethora of opportunities. These opportunities can be beneficial for your brand or services.
You will meet new people you might collaborate with for mutual benefits. Or you might get potential customers who give you some sales after the event.
4. Interact with Industry Leaders Face-to-Face
Nothing can be better than meeting your idol or inspiration face-to-face or listening to their achievements & story in person. And this opportunity you can only get by being a part of such networking events.
You can learn plenty of things from their experience to benefit your business or job. Also, you will get an insight into how these industry leaders approach new opportunities. You will learn how to overcome challenges to succeed.
5. Learn New Tools, Skills & What-Not
Every event teaches you something that will indeed help you in some way in the future. Most of the time, networking events have experts and industry leaders that share their resources or skills with you to help you grow.
Or there can be plenty of innovative business tools that you will experience the first time in these events.
So why miss the opportunity to learn something new and valuable by being a part of these events?
6. Bring More Visibility & Reach to your Business
We do all the possible marketing tactics to get better reach and sales for our business. But do you know that attending networking events can be one of the best inexpensive marketing tactics for your business?
Yes, that’s true! Imagine what could be better than a room full of audience and business-minded people who are all ears to know what you are offering!
Through networking with such people, you can inform them about your product or services. And who knows, they might be searching for the same? You never know how you can benefit from these events.
7. To Socialize and Get Motivated
Everyone needs to socialize, even introverts like us! No matter how hard socializing is for us, it always gives fruitful results to your business/services.
You may not be the master in the art of networking. But once you start doing it, you feel more motivated to attend such events/conferences.
Networking events provide a unique convergence of collaborating and learning in a single package. So why miss out on new opportunities?
Networking events are crucial for your personal and professional growth. With our easy and super-interesting ice breaking ideas for networking events, we are sure that you will make some great connections out there.
So what are you waiting for? Just breathe in, and walk into the room full of strangers to make some new connections. After all, your network is your net worth! Let’s enhance it with these fantastic icebreaking networking ideas.
And in case you are the boss, reading this article motivates your team to be a part of such events. Ask them to try these ideas and bring some new scalable business opportunities with them!