Confident Leader

11 great lines to start networking conversations

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Meeting new people can be hard, nerve-wracking and often involves you going out on a limb to break the ice and make a contact. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it because there are many times, especially at corporate events, when it is the only way to innovate, create and move things forward in your own career.

The good thing is that there are many lines you can use to approach someone new to start a conversation and make a new contact.

“Tell Me More About…”

Asking direct questions like this can be a great way to show interest in what other people do for a living and on a daily basis. It can also be a great way to find out the details of what they did on a particular project or to find out how they achieved something in their career that you admire and would like emulate.

This is a great way to start a networking conversation with someone because, not only do you show interest in that person, but you also often acquire valuable information and advice.

You can also use this opportunity to get ideas for projects you’re currently working on or are in the process of putting together — and to use what they say as an example/jumping off point for your own ideas and projects.

“What’s the Best Part of…?”

You’ll probably put this question more to people who hold higher job positions than you or people who do different things than you—like jobs, projects, etc.— because they would have more or different experience and responsibilities and tasks than you.

This can be a great conversation starter—networking or otherwise—because it shows that you have an interest in people as well as in moving up the ladder in your career or into a new area of work.

“How Did You Get Into…?”

Like the tip above, you’ll probably put this question more to people who have taken different opportunities to you. This can, however, also be a great starting off point for you to get involved in those things too or at least in something similar.

This too shows that you have an interest in moving up the career ladder, showing that you are willing to take a chance on something new and unknown … and that you want to and can take up new responsibilities.

“I was really impressed by your recent speech/media quotes/blog/article.”

You’re more likely to do this with people you’ve never met before but have most likely seen speak at an event, conference, etc. In doing this, you let the other person know you are interested in what they do and say and that you have similar ideas and lines of thinking as they do.

Furthermore, this is a great networking conversation starter because it will let the other person know that you know what they do, are up-to-date with their work and are even interested in working with them in the future—even if it’s only in a minor way.

“As we’re both here at the (buffet, bar, waiting room), I feel I should introduce myself. I’m [name] from [company].” 

One of the most daunting things you can do is just introduce yourself to someone new. And sure, this doesn’t just apply to networking. Getting up the courage to go over to someone, introduce yourself and talk to them about something — whether it’s a project they did that you want to know more about or what their thoughts are on a topic — can be daunting. Especially if you’re a bit shy or introverted.

But this is really one of the best Plan B ways to meet new people, whether from your company or others, and start networking and gaining new contacts.

“Any chance you read the news today? I missed it, and I’m dying to know what’s happening with [insert news topic here].”

Ok sure, this one does seem like the cousin to any weather-related small talk you have in elevators with people you don’t know well, like colleagues or your boss. But it can also be a great way break the ice and start talking to people you haven’t met before and get to know them better.

It’s also a great networking conversation starter because not only will you discover things you have in common, you’ll also make the transition into working with each other just that little bit easier — no matter how big a work project is or your role in it.

“Any chance you know a great sushi place around here? I’m not familiar with the area, and I’m headed to dinner after this.”

You might strike out with this one from time to time, but asking a local where a great food or coffee place is can be a great way to get your bearings on the city you’re in , meet someone new and allow them to show off their knowledge of the city.

This can be a great networking conversation starter because, not only will you get some great tips on local hotspots, but you will also gain a contact—and perhaps even a friend. From there, you could even invite them out for dinner, a drink or, more likely, to pick their brain about the industry/s you work in, latest advancements, work projects, etc.

“What a beautiful venue. Have you been here before?”

Asking someone if they’ve ever been to a venue before can give you an idea of the kinds of things they are interested in and the places they normally go to when having dinner, a drink with friends, and so on.

This is also a great networking conversation starter because you can swap stories about other venues you’ve been to, socially or for business matters, and, if the conversation goes well and you make a contact, you could even arrange to meet somewhere socially or even for the odd business meeting.

“Is it quieter on this side of the room? I can hardly hear over there.”

This can be great way to break the ice with someone, break off from the entire crowd at an event/function and introduce yourself to someone new and possible work contact.

This can also give the other person the impression—and perhaps rightly so—that smaller things are more your cup of tea rather than loud, over-crowded things. This can also be a great networking conversation starter because it will give you both a chance to have an actual conversation with each other, instead of just standing on the sidelines of other conversations or of anything else happening at the event/function you’re attending.

“Hey, aren’t you friends with/don’t you work with [fill in random name]?”

Having someone in common can be a great way to start a networking conversation with someone because it will make you both seem less like strangers and that you could have met anyway outside of a work event/function through that friend.

And, if done correctly, it can be a great segue into talking about work projects that you know they worked on with your mutual contact.

“I’m working on an article about the best and worst conversation starters ever. Any particularly good or terrible ones you’ve heard tonight?”

If all else fails, just be honest. Like I mentioned above, being direct can be a great way to meet new people and break the ice when learning what they do for a living and what their thoughts and opinions are on a topic.

The trick with being direct, though, is not to come on too strongly because, if you do, the person/people you’re talking to might get put off by your directness and then try to avoid you.

About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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