Networking is a lot like approaching that cute guy/girl in a bar. There is never ever a perfect way to get the conversation started however there a few techniques that I recommend that can get the words of even the most closed off person flowing.
1. Do you know where the bar is?
Yep, ask someone a simple question like where the bar is located at the event. Then offer to get the person a drink. Everyone will appreciate the gesture.
2. Strike up conversation waiting in the bathroom line
While you're waiting in line, crack a joke about how long women's lines are ask the person if they are here for the same event and how they heard of it.
3. Make friends at the food table
Again, ask questions! "Is this gluten free?" "Have you tried the mini quiches yet?" People want to be helpful and questions lead to conversations.
4. How long have you lived in [Fill in the blank] city?
If you're a newbie ask someone how long they've lived in the city you're in. This conversation can easily lead into recommendations, exchanging emails and planning excursions.
5. How did you get here?
People LOVE talking about how they got from point A to B. Did you take an uber? Subway? What tips can you help someone get home more efficiently.
6. Casually mention cool stuff you're doing
"This plate reminds me of the ones we found in Ethiopia". Slyly stick a conversation starter into a simple phrase. The next step is for the person to hone in on "Ethiopia" and start asking you questions. Then ask them about their travels.
7. Share hacks!
Gah! I love love love Via! If you haven't heard of it, make sure you download it and use it immediately. Share the amazing life changing apps or services that you're using and make sure to take notes on what cool things their offering.
8. Play the name game!
If you're in America you can most definitely play the name game. Find out where the person went to college and you will most likely be able to narrow down a friend in common. Once you identify a friend it helps you be "pre approved" and takes that wall down from a conversation.
9. Give a compliment
Girl flirting is a thing! Genuinely ask where their handbag, shoes or purse is from, there most likely is a story behind it. Otherwise you can strike up a conversation saying how you're looking for something just like their purse and ask where they bought it, everyone wants to be helpful.
10. Introduce your new friend to another new friend
Find two new people and introduce them to one another. Help get the conversation started within a group and act as the conversation liaison.
11. Make bold statements and see what happens
Be that person that gets the party started. "Can you believe Trump is our President? What do you guys think? Was it weird at your office?" Everyone has an opinion on big current events, it's guaranteed to get you into some sort of conversation.
12. Pets and Children
Have your phone out with a cute picture of your dog, kitten or child front and center. I guarantee people can't resist asking about something so adorable and can easily transition into asking them about their own pets/children.
13. Iphone Cases + Pop Sockets
I get more compliments on my iphone case. Make sure you're repping your phone in style. Plus, if you don't have a pop-socket your life is about to be changed. Pop-sockets will help you hold your phone and meet people. Everyone will ask you what it is and why it's on your phone.
14. Be Tan or Approach Tan People
Network post vacation. Everyone loves starting a conversation with "Looks like you got back from somewhere nice" or if you are the pasty person ask the glowing counterpart where they went.
15. Bump into them, literally
If all else fails a causal bump in is a great way to strike up a conversation. "Oops, sorry didn't see you there"
16. Ask lots of questions (tactfully)
Keep the questions coming! People like talking about themselves but make sure to do it tactfully not in a line of fire way. Figure out the narrative. For example, "Where are you headed for the holidays?" Then that question can be followed up with "Are you from there originally?" You're getting their story without prying open their story.
17. Be funny
Start off your conversation with a joke. They'll stick around, we all love funny people.
Do you have any tips that you use? Share them in the comments!