Networking events are a great way to meet useful contacts in your industry but it can be difficult to start a conversation with someone you don’t know—especially in a second language. Follow these tips to start great conversations and meet interesting people at your next networking event.
Before the event, make sure to do your research.
If there is a list of other attendees, decide who you want to speak to before you go. If there is a list of companies, decide which are most interesting and look at their websites to find out the names of some people who work there. By finding out some simple facts about the people you are meeting, you will feel more confident and be able to start a conversation more easily.
Think about where to stand.
It’s much easier to get a conversation started with people who are on their own, rather than joining in with a big group of people. Look around the room to see where to find small groups or people to start a conversation with. If there is a buffet or bar, it can often be a good place to start a conversation as you are more likely to find people there on their own.
Make sure you have something to talk about.
If you have done your research, you should know a little about the people or companies already. If not, talking about the place the event is held, the food, or the journey there can be a good way to start a conversation. Talking about current events and trends in your industry is often good too.
Remember to look at name badges.
It’s a simple tip but you will look really silly if you ask someone’s name and it is already on a badge on his or her chest. You can often see which company someone is from, and what his or her position is within the company from conference name badges. Taking notice of this will give you a good idea of what to speak about (and what not to speak about).
Have a business card ready.
This is more important in some cultures than others, but sometimes having an interesting business card can be a good way to strike up a conversation. Looking at another person’s business card can also give you ideas for things to talk about. If the person is not from your city or country, asking about their city is usually a good way to start a conversation—especially if you have visited there before.
So, now you know how to get started talking to people at a networking event. Next time you are at one, give these tips a try.