All network events have one thing in common: a sea of strangers you should talk to. But what do you do when you’re there? How do you start a conversation? And what do you talk about? Here are a few tips to make it easier to have a conversation with a stranger.
The biggest concern we hear about is: ‘How do you start a conversation?’ This is easier than you think. In fact, the other person will probably be pleased that you started the conversation! Here are a few icebreakers you can try out at the next networking event:
• “Hi, I don’t know too many people here, so I wanted to introduce myself. I’m and I work at .”
• “What a beautiful venue. Have you been here before?”
• “Hi, I’m . So, what do you do?”
• “What do you think about [topic of the event]?”
• “That was an interesting speech [say something about the speaker/speech]”
• “Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?”
Now that you have broken the ice, you want to keep the conversation going. Here are a few networking basics that will make sure you have a rewarding network conversation.
Psychologists who studied the conversational patterns of people meeting for the first time, found that when people believe they have a lot in common, they act as if they were old friends. So, look for common interest by asking questions like “What projects are you involved in?”, “What are you into outside work?”, “Have you been to these things before?” This will help you to determine whether you have common interests and build a relationship.
Here is a networking secret: to be a good conversationalist you don’t need to talk a lot! When it comes to networking, people are often afraid that they don’t know what to talk about or that they have nothing interesting to tell. As best-selling author Dale Carnegie says: “To be interesting, be interested.” People love talking about themselves. So, especially if you’re shy, ask questions that get the other person to open up. Ask questions that the other person will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves. People are always more interested in themselves and what they want than they are in you and your problems.
There is one important law of human conduct. Something that we all strive for and is in our human nature: We want to feel important. We want recognition of what we are worth. Have you ever noticed that when you talk to someone he or she will tell you about something he or she is very proud of? People love to talk about their success stories and accomplishments. William James, the father of American psychology, once said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Therefore we should not forget that our deepest desire is to feel important. Let the other realise that you recognise his or her importance.
These three networking keys will help you keep your networking conversations going and start building connections!
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