- “Silicon Valley”/HBO
Networking events could be tough for people not used to talking to strangers.
But often a simple question could get a conversation going and make those events worth the time.
Amanda Zantal-Wiener at HubSpot, a marketing software company worth $2 billion, has come up with a bunch of icebreakers anyone could use at awkward social events.
Here are the 9 best ones:
“Hi, I’m ‘X.’”
- Thomson Reuters
It’s the easiest way to start a conversation. Just make sure you follow up with something else.
“Saying ‘hi’ is just your way to get the ball rolling, so be sure you can keep the exchange going and take it to the next level,” Zantal-Wiener writes.
“Are you having issues with the Wi-Fi?”
The answer is almost always “yes.” Good to follow up with stories about the internet stopping at the worst time for you.
“That [food or beverage] looks great. Where did you find it?”
- Alvaro Barrientos/AP
Also good to share a story about a place where you had the best version of that specific food or beverage. Or compliment other things too, like their bag or jacket.
“Most people enjoy receiving positive feedback, and will probably follow up with a story about where or how they got it. (And if they don’t follow up, ask them about it – remember, keep the conversation going),” Zantal-Wiener writes.
“Do you know if there’s a coat check?”
- Business Insider
“When you first arrive, no one really knows what they’re doing. But anyone who does will jump at the chance to be ‘in the know,'” Zantal-Wiener writes.
“Did you all come here together, or did you meet here?”
- Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
This is a great way to get everyone involved and get the conversation going.
“The more people chatting, the better – it’s another opportunity for you to learn about everyone’s goals and exchange ideas,” Zantal-Wiener writes.
“Did you hear X speak?”
- Thomson Reuters
Use something you have in common to your advantage.
“It’s a great starting point that can go in a lot of different conversational directions – did you see that person speak at a different event? Did you read their work? What did you think of the talk?” Zantal-Wiener writes.
“Have you ever been to X down the street? I’ve really wanted to check it out.”
- Flickr/Rob Boudon
If you’re at an out-of-town event, you’ll learn about new places. If you’re a local, you can recommend good places to visitors. Or you could even suggest going there together!
“You guys look like you’re having the most fun over here. Mind if I join this conversation?”
- Mike Coppola/Getty Images
No one’s really going to say “no.” Just make sure you find people who are actually having fun.
“Are you speaking at this event?”
If the answer’s “no,” ask if that person’s colleagues are speaking.
If the answer’s “yes,” ask them what they’re talking about.
If the person’s already spoke, ask if you could watch it online or where they’re speaking next in the future.