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Networking Meetings – How to Break the Ice

You’ve just been invited to a networking event, or perhaps a gathering of key influencers in your industry. You finally get there, and suddenly find yourself speaking with nobody and by the time the night is over you’ve accomplished exactly as much as if you would have stayed home. This is a scenario no entrepreneur wants to be faced with, but for many this is the exact situation they can’t help but run into. So the question at this point becomes – what does one do to prevent it? How do you break the ice and start a productive conversation that leads to connections you need to land clients and work? With this guide we hope to help the less socially adept entrepreneurs out there to find their voice and form those crucial contacts to add to their address book.

Give Compliments

This is an easy one – but giving somebody a compliment is a good way to break the ice and get things started. It can be something as simple as praising their suit or a nice pair of shoes. Obviously, the compliment has to be genuine since disingenuous praise can have the opposite effect of what you’re going for. However, it’s generally easy to find something about a person to compliment, especially at a networking event. If they’re a speaker, complimenting their speech is an obvious starting point.

Trivia

Some people really like learning little tidbits about the venue, the city they’re in, or other tiny bits of information. Be prepared with some factoids about the industry, about current events, or even about something that stands out like a statue. Such bits of trivia can help spark a conversation easily. If somebody is admiring something, you might be able to provide a bit of history. Some new bit of industry news can help you seem like somebody who is knowledgeable and worth getting to know.   Do not underestimate the power of little bits of trivia in helping start conversation.

Introductions

If you have a friend or a colleague going to the same event who already knows somebody there, asking for an introduction can be a way to score an easy connection. Introductions are a common ice breaker and exploiting their power is a huge part of networking. Have your friend introduce you to the contact, then from there you may discover they have other connections, and those connections have their own connections. Keep going down the chain and you might be surprised how many business cards you manage to pick up over the course of the event.

Ask for Advice

One approach is to ask somebody for advice. The idea is that you are putting somebody else in a position of knowledge or power and showing them respect by assuming they’d be more knowledgeable. Make sure it is something related to the event – could be as simple as asking about the menu. These simple requests can create a favorable first impression and can also flow into a longer running conversation.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Once you have made a connection do not forget to periodically follow up on that contact. Using address book apps like Covve can help you connect with the people you have met on a regular basis and keep those connections alive. There is nothing more awkward than forging a connection only to have it fall away later because you didn’t keep up. Contacting somebody at least once a month can help keep the connection alive and prevents future awkwardness.   Hopefully, by following these tips you will be able to put together a digital rolodex filled with various connections from people who can help you realize your dreams and your ambitions.]]>

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