25/01/2012

By Gavin Meikle, Head Of Learning And Founder Of Inter-Activ

Networking events can be immensely valuable but often just the thought of talking to lots of strangers turns people off. I’d like to share six simple conversation strategies to help take pain away.

By asking questions around the following five themes and of course by being genuinely interested in the answers you will have little or no trouble establishing great initial relationships with anybody.

Travel

Everybody at the networking event has had to travel there from somewhere else by some mode of transport. Questions like “How did you get here"? Or “Where have you come from” are easy ways to initiate conversations.

Their Business

Asking what the other person does and the nature of their business is a safe way to develop the conversation further and it gives us opportunities to find further common experiences or interests to build the rapport. And if they say they are an undertaker, some other profession that you are not the slightest bit interested in or know nothing about, just be interested and ask them “How did you get into (insert their job here)?

Holidays

We are never very far away from a Bank holiday or a weekend. One is either coming up soon or has recently passed so it is easy to ask questions like “So what did you do for Easter?” or “What are you doing for the bank holiday

Sport and Leisure

This can be a safe bet if you are interested in sport. Even if you are not a sports buff, it’s amazing what you can pick up by listening to the radio or reading the newspapers and then simply quoting it in conversation. And if the person says they are involved in a leisure pursuit that is alien to you just ask the magic question “What got you into (double sided cross stitch?)

Current affairs

As business people, we need to keep abreast of the general news stories in the UK and internationally and these can be a great way to further develop the conversation. “I’m just curious, what do you think about ...?” is a good early question to ask.

Family

Last is a last resort and should only be used if the other party has introduced the subject first.

Remember that being interested in others makes us interesting to them.


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