Networking Icebreakers That Work
Success is a team sport: nobody ever truly did it on their own. That’s why networking is essential for small businesses. We can’t do it all on Twitter, facebook or Linkedin. There comes a time when you have to get out there and meet people face to face. This can be daunting if you’re not experienced at it, or if you are naturally shy. Here’s one great tip to bear in mind:
“Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.” Michele Jennae
Sometimes though, it’s hard to know what to say to people you’d like to connect with. New networkers are often terrified of becoming the wallflower that stands to the side and watches everyone else chatting away. We’re here to help. Here are some questions you can rely on to get the conversation started.
“Tell me: what do you do?”
This is a classic and a pretty safe option. If you’re at a business event, you can be sure that everyone there is dying to tell you what they do. Try it, you can’t go wrong.
“What have you been working on lately?”
This gives the other person an open goal: all they have to do now is impress you with a project that they’ve worked on. One that shows off their products or services. Result: you are impressed enough to recommend them to potential clients. Score!
“Why did you choose that career?”
This is a good question to use as a follow-up to the previous question. Usually when I ask this people struggle to answer it at first, but enjoy the task of looking back and remembering what inspired them to start doing the work that they do.
“What kind of clients should I introduce to you?”
This is really what everyone secretly hopes you’ll ask, but hardly anyone does. After all, if you went to the netorking event to sell something, you’re deluding yourself. This is a place to make and share connections. Good networking is not about selling, it’s about helping.
“That’s a really nice/interesting… Where did you get it?”
Find someone wearing an unusual brooch or club badge and ask them this question. The chances are that you’ll be treated to a interesting story or discover something unusual about the person you are talking to. That should then suggest some follow-up questions to you. Before you know it, you’ll both be chatting away like old friends.
“Are you a frequent networker?
This is a good one for new networkers. If the person you’re talking to is a regular attendee, they could tell you about the group and maybe some of the people there. If not you could join forces and find more people to engage together.
The Next Step
I hope these networking icebreakers will help you whenever you decide to go networking. I suggest you bookmark this page so you can jump to it before you go to your next one. Remember this key point though: networking is not about making sales, it’s about making connections and finding other businesses that you can help. Network often and apply this rule and you’ll develop a reputation as someone worth knowing.