Conversation Starters & Exit Strategies for Networking

Many people ask me if I have any tips on how to approach someone or break into a group at a networking event, others want to know how to break away from a conversation with someone without sounding rude, so here is my guide…

Enter 1. Remember 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 /this event and you may be surprised to hear that 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 gets the conversation going straight away.

4. \”What business are you in?\” Be straight forward and ask – but remember to make eye contact and be genuinely interested.

5. Pay particular interest in who you are speaking to- This follows on from tip number 4, people see right through disingenuity and it will go against you from the offset.

6. \”So what bought you here today?\” A great conversation starter- simple.

7. \”How has your day been/how is it going?\” *Smile* – Pretty much anything will be well received if it is delivered with a smile (within reason!).

8. \”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.

9. \”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.

10. \”What\’s your story?\” \”So how did you get into (your profession)?\” This sounds better than the commonly said \’So what do you do\’?

11. \”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.

12. Look for mutual likenesses/commonalities- as suggested in some of the above tips.

13. Pay a genuine compliment (observe the person & ensure it is genuine, don\’t overdo it and don\’t do this more than once at the same event.

14. Mutual contacts- \”we\’ve met before\”… \”I think we have met before\”… \”Do you know?\” (slot in the name of someone you think you both know to get the conversation flowing…

15. \”How long have you been a member of this group?\”

16. \”What do you most like about what you do?\” (people love to speak about themselves, so this one will work in most situations).

17. \”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.

18. \”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.

19. \”What do you enjoy doing when you\’re not working?\” (get to know them as a person/build a relationship/find common interests).


20. Following on from tips 17 and 18 \’Work the room\’ – think about who else is in the room who they may like to meet, this way you can break away once you have made that introduction, when you are ready to exit the conversation.

21. \”It\’s been a pleasure speaking with you/meeting you, if I meet a good contact for you I\’ll be sure to send them your way!\”

22. \”Well I don\’t want to take up too much more of your time – it was lovely to meet you\” (swap cards) and wish them a great rest of night. *Remember being a connecter of people, stands you in good stead to be remembered and if all else fails, say your mouth is dry from all the talking and you need to go to the bar for another drink (then make sure you do!) Fiona Duncan, RSViP Business network- http://www.rsvipnetwork.couk

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