Aside from “What do you do?” how do you approach people at a networking event?
Here are my top 3 ice breakers:
1. Tell them: I love your necklace — or your necktie, earrings, or shoes.
Why? Because it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the room. We all do this instinctively, of course. But if something about a fellow networker catches my eye, I like to tell them. The reason is simple: I know from experience that if something attracts me to a person at a networking event, odds are good they do something that I want to learn more about.
2. Ask: Is this your first time here?
Why? Because it’s mission critical to be friendly. If I see someone who looks lost, or uncomfortable, I like to approach them — especially if I am feeling the same way. It’s not always easy to walk into a room filled with people you don’t know and sell yourself and your business. Finding people who are slightly uncomfortable, and talking to them in a way that makes them feel more comfortable, tends to be great way to ease the stress of the situation for both of us.
3. Offer: Would you like a glass of wine?
Why? Because it’s essential to be gracious—always. Plus, I always want a glass of wine at a networking event (chardonnay, please). Not only does it open me up to what’s possible, by offering to grab someone a drink from the bar gives you the opportunity to do something kind for a person you don’t know. That’s always a good thing. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to start a conversation when you return with the glass. I have made some amazing contacts using this approach.
So get out there and break the ice! For an incredible list of events that you might want to attend, check out hundreds of networking events in 7 east coast cities at www.inkandescentnetworking.com.
Illustration by Michael Gibbs: www.michaelgibbs.com