Many people ask me if I have any tips on how to approach someone or break into a group at a networking event, so here is my step by step guide…
1. Remember in networking you are ‘Farming’ NOT ‘Hunting’- It is important to keep in the back of your mind at all times, that you are networking in order to build good quality relationships with people, with view to doing business with them in the near future- NOT selling to them in the room.
2. Be honest- Explain you’re new to networking or this event and you may be surprised to hear that person is too, creating a commonality immediately, which will inevitably break the ice.
3.“How did you hear about this event?” This is a nice follow on from tip number 2 and will get the conversation going straight away.
4.“What line of work/business are you in?” Be straight forward and ask – but remember to make eye contact and be genuinely interested.
5. “So what has bought you here today?” A great conversation starter- simple.
6. “Do you mind if I say hello and introduce myself, I’m new here?” Again straight to the point but a soft approach, laying the onus on the other person to then have to respond.
7. “Wow its busy isn’t it, do you mind if I join you here in the quiet corner?” This one is always good if of course firstly the event is busy and secondly it may reach people similar to you who are a little more shy or new to networking.
8. “What a beautiful venue- have you been here before?” (Of course only use this if it really is a beautiful venue), this can be tailored to other observations about the venue or food itself however in order to break the ice.
9. “How long have you been a member of this group?”
10. “What do you most like about what you do?” (People love to speak about themselves, so this one will work in most situations).
11. “What types of businesses tend to send you the best referrals?” This shows that you are thinking about their business as of the moment you meet them.
12. “What can I do to help you?”/ “Who are you looking to meet here today?” This shows that you are interested in helping them and that you are a good connector of business.