Top 5 Memorable Conversation Starters For Networking
1 - Comment on the food
When you don’t know anybody in the room, you’ve got to find a common interest, and at every networking event, this will be food. With everyone in the room being served the same food, it is the perfect starting point for any conversation. Have very strong opinions on the food. Enquire about who catered the event. Mention an upcoming event that you’re hosting and claim that you’re currently negotiating the menu. There you go, suddenly everyone is invested in you and your opinion and you can move onto more important matters.
2 – Ever heard of the speaker?
At some networking events, there will be a keynote speaker. A great trick to start a conversation is to pretend you have no idea who they are, and simply ask someone. If they know who the speaker is, it will make them feel comfortable around you, and invites them to engage in conversation with you. If they also have no idea, you’ve got something to laugh about, and then change the topic completely. Laughter is great. It means you’re both relaxed, and it means they’re more open to whatever you’re trying to sell.
3 – Fish out of water
If you’ve never been to a particular event before, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people. In fact, it’s a great way to start a conversation. If you see someone that looks very confident and comfortable in this setting, approach them and say that you’ve never experienced this before and that you don’t know what to expect. They’ll be more than happy to give some tips and pointers, and they may even introduce you to the friends they have brought with them.
4 – Be a good listener
This one sounds counter-intuitive, but being a good listener has benefits in building and maintaining relationships. If there’s one thing people enjoy doing, it’s talking about themselves. If there’s one thing people don’t enjoy doing, it’s inviting other people to talk about themselves. You’ve got to be that person that asks “How did you get into this field?” and let the floodgates open. Give every indication that you’re invested in their story. Nod along in agreement and compliment their hard work when they speak of their achievements. Once they’ve told their story, they have begun trusting you, and they’ll be more receptive to whatever you have got to say next.
5 – Give yourself an interesting job title
If you’re not comfortable trying any of the above, there is always the standard “Hi my name is Alice and I’m an accounts manager” line. A lot of people will use this, but it lacks memorable sheen. Try giving yourself a new job title, one that is related to what you do, but sounds infinitely more exciting. An account manager could become an account-keeping extraordinaire. A receptionist could become the director of first impressions. Your options are limitless, and you can get creative! When someone asks you to elaborate, say “It’s basically [insert real job title here] but with a little more pizazz.” You may get a few laughs, but they’ll definitely remember you for it.
With these memorable conversation starters, you’re bound to be a success on networking night. Make sure to breathe, keep calm, and go in with your head held high. Remember that everyone else is in the same boat as you, but having the courage to approach someone and start a conversation is important if you want to get ahead. And once you’ve collected a healthy stack of business cards, make sure to follow up with each of them after the event, to make sure that they continue to remember you perhaps for the rest of their lives.