For others, approaching someone they don’t know and starting a conversation is difficult. Many people even hate that. For some people, the idea of having to go up to a stranger and make small talk about random topics sounds like torture. But if you want to be successful at networking, you need to learn how to schmooze and do it comfortably with people you don’t know.
Although I would define myself as a social individual, there are still times when meeting someone new makes me shy. For example, I’m often jealous of people who can walk into a group, introduce themselves and laugh at jokes within just five minutes. Some people are born networkers, while others have to work at it. Here is a list of eight icebreakers that will help you become more confident and successful the next time you find yourself networking…
1. Give the person a compliment.
Whether you’re a man or woman, complimenting someone on their fashion choices is a great conversation starter. Men may have to get a bit more creative, but there’s no reason they can’t compliment a sharp tie or jacket.
2. Have a discussion with your dinner companion about the food or what they are drinking.
When it comes to networking, one thing you can always rely on is that people love talking about food and beverages. If the person you’re hoping to network with has an interesting-looking drink, ask them what it is or comment on how good the food looks.
3. Ask the person you’re speaking to who they work for.
If you’re unsure about something, always ask questions! And if you know anyone who works for his company, be sure to mention them.
4. Compliment them in their name.
If the person you’re trying to talk to is wearing a name tag, then that makes your job much easier. If her name is something simple like “Kate,” you don’t want to ask too many questions, but if she has an interesting name you could inquire about the origin of it or if she was named after someone.
5. You can talk about the weather or the temperature of the room to break the ice.
A lot of people talk about the weather, but did you know that complaining about the room temperature is a bonding experience? Unite against a common enemy! You might be surprised to learn how much of your workday is devoted to this subject.
6. Talk about a recent big news event, especially if it is related to their line of work.
This works in two ways: It demonstrates that you stay current on world affairs, and it jumpstarts the conversation. A win-win situation all around.
7. Talk about how long the bathroom line is.
When you find yourself stuck in the bathroom line at a party, take advantage of the situation! people are usually more willing to chat when they’re both annoyed by something like having to wait in line for the toilet.
8. Be honest.
A great way to break the tension is, to be honest, and admit that you’re feeling a little awkward – everyone appreciates honesty!
What’s the best way to break the ice when networking? Let us know in the comments below!