You know that feeling, that pit in your stomach when you stand before a stranger searching for words to say. For some people this is not a problem. They have a gift of being able to talk to anyone, but for many, this is a challenge, and quite honestly, a fear. From a very early age our parents tell us not to talk to strangers. It is engrained in us to be guarded.
One of the ways we grow our personal brand is through our network. You will always be maintaining and growing your network. This will include attending business and community networking opportunities. I tend to not think of it in terms of networking. I like to think of it in terms of having conversations with others. For me, it takes the anxiety of the encounter to a level that is more comfortable and more intimate. I focus on building true relationships with others.
Before any event, I come prepared with a list of 5 conversation starters that I can ask of others when I am meeting them. It helps take the edge off of what to say. I also want to make sure the conversation is valuable for both parties with the goal of being memorable. I want them to think back to our conversation and say, “I really enjoyed meeting her. She was genuinely interested in learning about me.” There are more interesting details to learn about someone in the short time you have conversing than simply discussing the weather. How does that even help you get to know someone? Talking to others becomes easier as you do it, especially when you come into the conversation prepared.
My Top 5 Conversation Starters I use:
- How did you learn about/what brought you to this event?
- What trends do you see in your industry?
- What projects are you working on?
- What is a typical day like for you?
- How can I help you succeed?
You will find the entire list of 30 conversation starters in my article for The C-Suite Networks Advisors.