If you are looking to strike up a conversation with anyone and learn how to talk to strangers, as one would at a networking event, then look no further.
The goal at a networking event is to meet and greet as many people as you can. Even though it is more comfortable to speak with one person for the entire time, you are not taking full advantage of the networking you could be doing instead. My advice would be to avoid getting stuck to one person and speak to as many people as you can. By getting their contact information and chatting with them, you can always reach out for another meeting to get to know them even better.
These strategies will empower you to more effectively engage with colleagues and clients across cultures.
Here are my quick tips for starting and ending a conversation at a networking event.
How to start a conversation at a networking event:
- “Hello, how are you? I’m ________. ”
- Look for social interaction sparks
- Look for overlapping interests by asking questions
- If you’ve hit a spark, the listener will raise their eyebrows
- Pursue the conversation that it sparks
Once you have exchanged a few utterances and learned a bit about this person you can motion to exit the conversation. But how do you do this in a polite and unhurried way?
How to end a conversation at a networking event:
Use a “future reference” to motion to the interlocutor that you are ready to wrap up this conversation. The idea is to shift the focus from the present to the future. To do this, you need to allude to an event in the future.
Let's see this in action!
- YOU: What are you up to this weekend?
- NEW CONTACT: I’ll be sailing in a regatta.
- YOU: Oh, that sounds amazing. Well, I wish you the best ok luck. I hope it’s great fun. [say goodbye]
- YOU: Any plans for the Lunar New Year?
- NEW CONTACT: Yeah, we’re going skiing in Japan.
- YOU: Oh, that’ll be phenomenal. I hear they have the best powder skiing in the world. Well enjoy your trip!
And from there you can take your leave. Excuse yourself or tell the person that it was a joy to talk with them or a pleasure to meet them! And move on to meet the next person.
Networking events are great places to meet people, but you need to be a tactful communicator and learn how to talk to as many attendees as you can so that you can make personal and professional connections. After all, that is the point of networking!
Keep a future-mention in your communication toolkit, especially at networking events when you need to exit the conversation to talk to someone else. This will help shift the attention from the present conversation to the future and give you an easy way out.
Happy Explearning 🌠