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An introvert's guide to networking conversation

October 28, 2019
hunting hired

Networking, the one word in business that can strike fear in any introvert's mind! The idea of walking into a room full of professionals, pulling out a little business card and getting to work can be incredibly intimidating for just about anyone. Still, for introverts, the idea of putting yourself out there can be more than intimidating it can be debilitating.

Networking is a skill that we aren't born with, so if the idea of walking into a networking event makes your stomach turn, you can change this. The concept of networking is merely pitching to strangers why you should know each other. Improve your small talk and self-pitch and you are on your way to networking like the best of them.

Below is a set of six small talk topics to keep in the Rolodex of your mind whenever the opportunity to network arises.

1. How did you get your start / What led you to this career path?

Asking someone about their role is a stock standard question that most people throw into the conversation straight away. An excellent follow up to the job role query, is to ask them how they got started or what led them down that career path.

Occasionally people may not want to dive too deep into this matter as they may believe it is a little personal. Still, more often than not, you will find that individuals love to share their humble beginnings, it's an excellent springboard for people to brag about their achievements and it is quite interesting listening to how people chose their current position, creating an exciting and in-depth conversation between both parties.

2. What led you to this event tonight?

People don't just head to networking events for the food and wine. There is always an underlying reason, and often it can be the same factor for most people present. Asking what led the person to the event can generate some great discussions and a sense of camaraderie, you may both be in similar positions and work required it, or perhaps you both work from home and wanted to make more connections.

Whatever the reason; chances are you aren't the only person in that room there for that particular purpose, improving the chances of meeting similar individuals.

3. What keeps you busy outside of the office?

This is a simple and straightforward conversation topic. Moving away from the professional line of discussion can help people drop their guard and expand on interests that you may have in common. Discovering that you both have a love for badminton or perhaps both follow the same Big Bash Cricket team can led to a comfortable and enlightening discussion. People also love to speak about their families, opening the conversation up to a topic that they have a wealth of knowledge about puts people at ease. Asking what keeps them busy outside of the office, lets the individual chose which avenue they would like to talk about most, be it sport, holidays or family. This question creates a discussion as apposed to a general two sentence answer.

4. I recently visited BLANK / had dinner at BLANK, and it was beautiful, have you been? Where have you loved visiting/eating recently?

This can be a bit of a dangerous line of discussion, as you do not want to appear that you are boasting about yourself, so read the tone of the discussion. If it seems appropriate, then start with your recent trip and ask the person if they have also been. This opener is excellent at building a rapport, having a destination in common gives plenty of connections for you to build upon.

If you are not feeling confident starting the conversation with your own recent getaway, simply ask them about their most recent getaway or where they would recommend. It is a great way to prompt the other person to gloat a little about their holidays, while also giving you great tips if you are in the market for a trip.

5. Have you tried the BLANK served tonight? It is delicious; I can't get enough.

Use the food and drink supplied to your advantage, food is a quick and easy discussion point. Discuss how great you think the all-vegan hor d' oeuvres are or how wonderful it is they are supplying wine from the beautiful local winery you have been meaning to try.

Discussions about the food and wine supplies are often light and easy to segue into further conversation points about restaurants, wineries and recipes.

6. What do you think the highlight of today's event was? What piece of wisdom are you taking away from the presentation?

Asking the other person what they thought was most impressive during the event helps to create a soft point of discussion. As you were both in attendance, you most likely have a similar experience and can easily chat about the musings of the presentation without too much thought or effort.

If you are looking for openers, then don't forget to save a few of these one-liners in your back pocket. They may not lead to extensive conversations, but they can at least help you break the ice and get the discussion started:

  • What a beautiful venue, have you been here before?
  • Have you had a chance to read the paper today? I haven't had the time and would love to know about BLANK?
  • I can't believe how beautifully dressed everyone is here tonight, I feel a little underdressed. I love your BLANK.
  • As we are both standing next to each other, let me introduce myself.

Don't forget that while it is all good and well to have a backlog of questions ready to fire away at any unsuspecting attendee. It is just as essential to have your own in-depth responses to these questions. Once the conversation has reached its peak, you can be sure you will be asked the same question in return. Be prepared with an insightful answer that could possibly lead to further discussions.

 What do you think of these conversation topics

Do you have another conversations starters we should be aware of?

Leave a comment down below and let the team at Hunting Hired know your thoughts.

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