Six Effective Networking Icebreakers
Networking is a part of your career — but how do you start a conversation with someone you’ve never met before? Here are some icebreakers that are guaranteed to help you start an engaging discussion:
“Excuse me, do you mind if I introduce myself?”
This oldie-but-goodie is actually an excellent way to make new connections. People come to networking events with the objective of expanding their networks, so they’re obviously open to meeting new people. So long as you don’t interrupt a conversation and do remember to show genuine interest in the other person, you’re likely to get a positive response.
“Are you originally from this city, or are you here for business?”
According to Jacquelyn Smith in her Business Insider article “19 icebreakers to use at uncomfortable networking events,” this is a great icebreaker because it doesn’t merit a stiff “elevator pitch” response. Instead, it allows the other person to talk about him or herself, which tends to be the beginning of a good conversation.
“What did you find most interesting about the presentation/discussion/talk?”
If there was a presentation, roundtable discussion, or talk before the networking event, this is a reliable conversation starter. It invites the other person to give his or her opinion on a shared experience so you can respond.
“What motivated you to come here?”
As the Young Entrepreneur Council advises in their Inc. article “8 Go-To Icebreaker Questions for Your Next Networking Event,” asking this question provides you with insights into the other person’s objectives, which prompts discussion.
“I overheard you saying you work at company X. Do you know so-and-so?”
This is a good conversation starter because people usually enjoy talking about their jobs and their companies — even if they don’t know the person you’re referring to. And if they do him or her, you’ll have even more common ground.
“Wow, it’s busy here. Would it be okay if I join you? It seems a little quieter over here.”
The article “30 Brilliant Networking Conversation Starters” in The Muse advises that this can be a good way to break the ice with someone who’s an introvert or who doesn’t know anybody at the event. Oftentimes, these people are trying just as hard as you to find a way to make a connection.
Once you’ve effectively started a conversation, follow through by asking thoughtful questions and finding out if there’s any way you can help the other person. This is what will enable you to not just meet people, but actually make meaningful connections that can be mutually beneficial throughout your career.