Professional networking can be difficult if you don’t have the language of business nailed down yet, but there are both casual and more subtle methods of starting a professional conversations the right way. Business deals can either be made or broken depending on how you choose your words in a chat. Before we discuss what kinds of introductory terms you can use, we need to understand the four qualities that the best conversation starters all have.
1) They are personal.
Directly use conversation starters that the other person will relate to. Make it about the other person, and not yourself. Learn something about that person as he or she will be motivated to engage in the conversation. From here you will be given numerous paths to choose from on where to take the conversation.
2) They are not too personal.
You want to know more about the other person, but don’t tap into issues that make him or her sensitive, or worse, offend that person. Make sure to tie in the personal approach with business topics because those topics are at the core of why you are meeting the other person.
3) They reflect a general interest.
If you don’t really care about a certain topic in a business conversation, then don’t bother asking a question about that topic. Your conversation starter has to revolve around a topic that both you and the other person can emotionally invest in to keep the conversation going.
4) They are authentic and adapted.
Other people can sense whether or not you mean what you say in a conversation. Sometimes the best conversations revolve around the positive tone of voice that you use when asking questions. Also be mindful of your own body language as that can give away your stance on a topic. If you sense that the other person wants to take a conversation in a direction, then follow along.
Now here are some conversation starters you can use to effectively network.
“Hello, I’m (Name)” This is the most straightforward way of breaking the ice especially if your tone of voice comes across as confident.
“How do you all know each other?” Don’t be afraid to approach a complete circle of people. As long as you ask everyone how they met each other, they will respond to you and allow a conversation to develop from this point. The more participation from the circle, the better chance you will have at networking.
“So, what do you do?” Allow others to talk first and then think about how to approach the conversation. You will get an idea of what others are about and then you can respond in an appropriate manner.
“What’s your story?” Everyone has a story to tell and some are eager to tell their stories in a business conversation. The backgrounds of some people may be fascinating enough for you to network with them.