Tried & True Conversation Starters
Let’s be honest, most people do not enjoy networking, especially if you are an introvert, although we agree it’s a necessary activity in business. One way to ensure it’s almost pain-free (and a lot more interesting and enjoyable) is to engage in a sincere conversation when you meet someone with a goal to discover a connector or common denominator. It’s best to leave any discussion about business aside until a relationship is established. Remember, in the end, people do business with people they like. The best way to break the ice in a conversation is to establish a connection as quickly as possible. We need to listen more than we talk. Asking the right questions without appearing pushy or intrusive is key. The most important thing is to be relaxed and sincere to ensure the person you are meeting feels the same, demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in them, putting them at ease in order to facilitate a great conversation. My top three favorite questions to break the ice at a networking or other business event are…
- How do you know the host? This is a great way to get the other person talking and in doing so you begin to learn about their work and them without asking the age-old question that none us want to be asked: “What do you do?”
- Are you a sports fan? We are always in some sports season whether it’s the world series for baseball, hockey season, golf or college football, you can discover connections or engage in friendly competition through identifying sports interests or their college alma mater.
- When you aren’t working what is your favorite thing to do? I love this question because you can learn so much from it. Hobbies, interests, family, etc. Let the relationship-building begin!
- I love books! Have you read anything lately that you would recommend? What is your favorite business or career book?
- What is your favorite restaurant? If you are networking in your hometown or traveling in another city, it’s always great to hear what others recommend. You can learn about new hotspots or age-old favorites. And if you decide to invite the person you are newly meeting for a follow-up lunch, you already know what they like!
Being a great conversationalist is often more about listening than talking. People will remember how you made them feel and want to talk to you again. Here’s to successfully and memorably starting conversations!