8 Ways to Strike Up a Conversation at a Networking Event

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How can you make your first introduction and create a powerful impression?

Introducing yourself and striking up a conversation with professional contacts can feel a bit intimidating and nerve racking, especially if you’ve never been to a job fair or trade show event. But you should never feel anxious or nervous about introducing yourself because it can actually be incredibly fun and enormously beneficial.

Engaging with others is quite effortless; all you have you have to do is simply be yourself. Honestly!

Now, introductions can sometimes feel awkward, but it doesn’t have to be! You just need to know the right thing to say. There are various ways in which you can introduce yourself to spark up a conversation, in fact there are 5 ways, as mentioned by BostonTweetUp’s co-founder and author of The Ultimate Guide to Networking 2.0, Joselin Mane, in his Networking 2.0 video series.

 

1)     “Warm introduction”  

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Photo credit: BostonTweetUp. Taken at: Boston Sports & Social Media Marketing

Social media has redefined the way we connect. There’s a chance you might have already met or have gotten to know someone via online. Whether it is from their blogs, social media, or their websites, you may already know them or be acquainted with them to some extent. So all your doing now is meeting them “IRL” (in real life). Knowing them already will make your introduction easier for you because if you for some chance still don’t know what to say, you can just reference something that you’ve enjoyed from their online sharing/content. Anything that will get you reconnected!

 

2)     “Cold Introduction”

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Photo credit: BostonTweetUp. Taken at: Boston Bloggers Holiday Fiesta

(Photo taken at: Boston Bloggers Holiday Fiesta Dec 2011)

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, there’s a chance they may or may be wearing a nametag. If they are wearing one, then that will make your introduction that much more easy. All you have to do is look at what their tag says for some context, address them personally on a first name basis, ask them how they are doing, and introduce yourself. Simple enough.

But it they don’t have a nametag, then find a way to introduce yourself in a way that will reflect your personality. Something along the lines of “My name is Joselin, what brings you here today?” Just remember to be careful in how you introduce yourself because you don’t want to offend anyone. Saying something like this, as opposed to “Hi, what do you do?” will make your introduction easier and warmer. You never know, they may have just gotten fired, don’t have a job, or simply just don’t want to talk about their profession. And you don’t want to be that jerk that reminds them of them their struggles. So refrain from offending people by keeping things neutral.

 

3)      “Context introduction”

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Photo credit: BostonTweetUp. Taken at: Boston Sports & Marketing TweetUp

If you’re at an event and you‘re already acquainted with few individuals there, then you can strike up conversation not only for yourself but for others as well. If you already have some context or background on someone then you can introduce that person to someone new. Point out something that relates them to one another  (this is totally up for you to decide) and watch the networking magic happen.

 

4)     “No context introduction”

Taken at: Uber Pre-Game to New Years w/ Eventbrite Boston
Photo credit: BostonTweetUp. Taken at: Uber Pre-Game to New Years w/ Eventbrite Boston, Task Rabbit, & PopChips Dec 2011

If you’re conversing with two or more people and aren’t sure if everyone else knows each other, simple ask “do you guys no each other?” This will naturally make them introduce themselves, instead of you doing the introducing for them. This will work to your benefit in case you forgot their name, want to be reminded of what they do, or in case you want to take a mental note of how they like to be introduced.  See how it’s done along with 4 other ways to introduce someone in this video.

 

5)     “Social Introduction”

Leveraging social media platforms like Twitter is a great and easy way to strike up a conversation. Conversations via social media can be done either before or after an event. Before the event would be something along the lines of “Hey @PersonA, @PersonB is going to be at the event tonight, you two should meet” and after the event, “Hey @PersonB, did you get a chance to talk to @PersonA?” So whether you decide to introduce yourself or others to one another either before or after the event, you will ultimately be striking up conversations.

 

But aside form introductions, there are other creative ways that can help you strike up a conversation or drive others to start one with you

6)     Name Tags

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Photo credit: BostonTweetUp. Taken at: Bon-Voyage TweetUp #BVBoston

It’s more than likely that you will receive a nametag during the event, so here’s your chance to make yourself stand out so that others are drawn to you. Normally people will just write down basic info on their nametag- their name. But what if you wrote something other than just your name? Maybe something like your company name, profession, or (as we would highly recommend) your Twitter handle. Chances are if you include something on your nametag that is associated with you, other attendees will be more likely to recognize you, which will then give them a greater incentive to approach and talk to you.

 

7)     Never Eat Alone

Lunchspotting 1.2
Photo credit: BostonTweetUp. Taken at: Lunchspotting 1.2 

Mingling over food or drinks is an easy and relaxing icebreaker. And most of the time these kinds of events have finger food or Hors d’oeuvres, specifically for that reason. So if you’re someone who is unfamiliar with the people there, grab your plate and sit with someone. It’s just like at the dinner table where we are always encouraged to sit and talk with out families so that we can better connect. Conversing comes easier and when you’re bonding over a meal. It gives you the chance to analyze others while you eat, and it gives you time to think up what to say while you chew your food or sip on your cocktail.

 

8)     Networking Style

 

Naturally, we sometimes judge a book by its cover, so depending on how you dress is how you will be judged and treated. So don’t be afraid to try new colors and prints out that will make you stand out, but don’t dress in anything you aren’t 100% confident in. You want to feel comfortable in what you wearing so that you can be confident in what you say and do. Wearing things that make you stand out will draw people to you. However, just bPecause it’s a professional event doesn’t mean you have to stick to the normal yet bland khaki pants and blue button up. Try something different! Something like having your company name, logo, or twitter handle on your shirt. That way others will automatically know what you do, which will make it easier       for them to approach you.

It’s really that simple. Don’t think too much into it and like I said earlier, just be yourself! Striking up a conversation will come naturally, once you learn how utilize and master these tips.

If you want to learn more tips and procedures on how to better connect not just during an event, but before and after an event as well, visit BostonTweetUp.com where we provide guidelines and advise networkers, venues, organizers, speakers and sponsors on how to better network. Or subscribe to our newsletter to find out about daily networking events and opportunities within the Greater Boston Area.

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