Be More Comfortable When Networking

You know it’s important to attend functions where you can network with others in your field of work.  You sometimes feel uncomfortable and find it difficult to start a conversation.  When you are at the meeting, you make eye contact with someone and decide to approach this other person and introduce yourself.  After making the introduction how do you begin a conversation?  Here are a few examples of how you can begin and carry on a conversation with someone you have just met.

There are some open-ended ice breaker questions that should help start a conversation.  It is important that you refer to the other person by name.  People like to hear their own name being used and using the name will help you to remember it.

You might say something like “what do you do David?  People like to talk about themselves and their businesses.  By asking the question “what do you do?” you can get the other person started talking about a subject dear to his heart.  Most people like to listen to the sound of their own voice so your original question is important to set the tone for the conversation.  Another question that you might ask, also a good ice-breaker question, is “What brings you here today, David”?

After talking with this person for a little while you should have an idea of whether or not you want to get to know this person better.  If you do not have any interest in developing more contact with this person, then make a graceful exit and move on to someone else.  If you have a connection with this person, then try some additional questions to get to know him better.  You might ask “David, how did you get into this business”?”  Or, you might ask “David” to draw you a mental picture of what success looks like for his business.  Or, you might ask “David” what type of business challenges keep him awake at night.

You might use any or all three of these questions.  However, you want to be sure you do not monopolize the other person’s time.  After all, you are attending a networking event. There is a good chance that both you and the other person want to use the opportunity to meet and chat with a number of different people.  It might be time to make a graceful exit and perhaps suggest that the two of you get together in the near future.

It is important that your exit be a graceful one.  You do not want the other person to think you are blowing him off.

Perhaps you can introduce this person to someone else who might be of interest to them and then you can politely excuse yourself.  You might say to the new person that “David is in the same industry you are and I thought the two of you should meet.”   After the two of them exchange pleasantries you might say something like “I see the two of you have a lot to talk about so, David,  I’ll catch up with you later.   It was great meeting you.  Can I give you a call sometime later, David, to talk further?”

Now that you have a few ideas of how to start a conversation when attending your networking events, you may feel a little more comfortable.  You want to practice so talking with strangers will come naturally to you.  You will see results for your business that you like when you can network successfully.