Are you trying to build your professional network? It’s can be hard to start up a conversation with a stranger. In the job hunt, every stranger is a potential professional contact. The bigger your network, the better your chances of landing your dream job. All you need to start the process is a few easy conversation starters.
Who you know in life makes a world of difference. The art of talking to people is a vital skill in the world of networking. Some experts say that you should spend more time networking than actually applying for jobs. Building a professional network needs to be an absolute priority if you want to be successful.
If you’re naturally shy, starting a conversation is a daunting task. Remember that other people will feel the same way as you. Here are some easy conversation starters to help break the ice:
- “Is it quieter on this side of the room? I can hardly hear over there.”
- “Are you friends with so-and-so?”
- “Hi, I’m so-and-so.”
- “What do you do?”
- “Where do you work?”
- “What’s your story?”
- “What a beautiful place. Have you been here before?”
- “Did you watch the news/game last night?”
- “Nice shoes/watch/jacket. Where did you get it?”
- “What are you drinking?”
- “Do I know you from somewhere?”
There are countless conversation starters. Feel free to use these or come up with your own. The important thing is to start the conversation. Whether you pay a compliment, throw out some trivia, or ask a question, it’s important to be engaging. Be genuine, honest, and interested. Do your best to keep the conversation going. When it starts to get awkward, have an exit strategy and hand out your business card.
The more you talk to people, the easier it will become. You can practice on random strangers in the lift line, at the deli, or at the bar. Watch others, eavesdrop to hear what works, or learn a fun (and appropriate) collection of movie quotes. Fine tune your approach and you’ll be ready to meet people at the next networking event that you attend. (And try to avoid these networking mistakes.)
Building a network is essentially a job. Treat it as such. Use these conversation starters to get people talking. You never know what your professional contacts can help you achieve. They may even help you find your dream job. Good luck!