We know. Walking into a room full of people already engaged in conversation can nerve-racking. The word “awkward” comes to mind. Initiating conversation with a person or a group at an event is never easy, no matter how smooth a conversationalist you consider yourself to be. It takes a bit of finesse to be the one to initiate conversation--but less than you think. It’s easy, really, and we know you can do it.
Just put these 5 no-fail conversation starters to the test at the next networking event you attend:
1. Keep it simple
“Hello, I’m _________. I don’t know many people here, and I would like to introduce myself. I work for __________, what about you?” See? It wasn’t hard. No one will be offended or surprised by this classic introduction--it is a networking event, after all, you’re there to make connections.
2. Stay current
“What do you think about ____________ (current news event that is not political)?” Use something from the offbeat news pile, or something about a scientific discovery or phenomenon. For example, “So, did you see any of the amazing photos of this week’s super blood moon eclipse?” or “I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to try this new space-aged whiskey--have you heard about it?” With everyone as connected as they are today, chances are they have the same stories as you have and can comment. If they haven’t, you’ve at least sparked their interest!
3. Food for thought
Chances are there’s a buffet at the event, and the presence of food can help ease you into conversation with someone. “These sliders are great, they remind me of the burgers at ___________ (name any spot), have you been there?” Or, if the food isn’t as stellar as you’d hoped, “I’m still going to be hungry after this event, do you know any good restaurants in this area?” People love to talk about food and give recommendations--just provide the opportunity and you’ve got instant conversation!
4. Books, film, travel
Appeal to a person’s creative and adventurous sides by asking about what they’re reading currently, what the last great film or series they watched was, or where they hope to take their next holiday. Asking non-work related questions take the pressure of off both of you.
5. Connectivity counts
Starting a conversation with “So, how did you find out about this event?” isn’t just a banal conversation starter--it can help you make connections and reveal shared connections. If the person was invited by the speaker or by the event’s guest of honor, you can ask for an introduction. The answer may also reveal a shared connection. Either way, it’s a no-fail way to initiate a conversation and start networking.