Why do you meet with new people? What do you aim to achieve?
Most people network to seek new opportunities: clients, leads, investors, partners, employees, mentors, and many others.
Networking events are our “playground,” where every new person we meet is a possible new opportunity for us! A connection usually starts when person X breaks the ice with stranger Y, and to many people, this is not an easy task!
Inviting Opportunity In!
To get to know that big-shot investor, or offer your product to prospective clients, we need to break the ice first. True, it can be embarrassing and we may get rejected, but it doesn’t make this skill less crucial for networkers like you!
You see, the first verbal and non-verbal communication we make with someone new can determine their impression about us and the future of our relationship.
Before we even start selling or asking for assistance, we need to form some type of rapport and preferably a good one. Being perceived as approachable, trustworthy, interesting, and positive people will help open the way for potential flourishing, mutually-beneficial relationships.
The thing is that no one has ever formally taught us how to do it right. We imitate other people and work with our instincts and cultural customs. This is why I want to share the Attractive and Interactive method to breaking the ice!
This method will help you get through that first sentence, and afterwards you can keep the small talk going!
This approach is about attracting other people to you, and making THEM take the first step by initiating a conversation with you!
1) Attractive vibes
Your goal is to make others around you feel they can approach you. This can be done using non-verbal methods. Smile, laugh, and look positive. Feel approachable and open to new people so it will glow and show outside of you as well!
Research shows that keeping your chest, abdomen and torso open will display availability to others around you. On the contrary, if you cross your arms or block your chest by holding items next to it like your phone or a glass of wine, you will be perceived by others as unavailable. Learn more here.
Also, similar to the dating world, look into the eyes of the people around you, share a true smile with them and look back. And do it again.
These actions will make others see you as an open, positive and interesting person and will send a signal that it’s OK to initiate a talk with you.
2) Attraction tools
Take an interesting item with you that will attract people’s attention and make them approach you and ask about it.
For example: My friend Nozer Buchia, a business mentor and author, takes the book he wrote with him to different events. He holds the book in such a way that his picture on the cover is shown to all, and it simply attracts people to him. They ask to learn more about him and his book, and the conversation goes on from there.
You may not have a book with your photo on it, but take this case as inspiration. Think about what your attraction-driven tools are. You can hold a product you sell or a brochure with compelling slogan or a photo, or you can wear an interesting item of clothing. Useful giveaways and promotional items can also attract people’s attention to you. Think how can this work for me?
3) The Q&A spin
Many conventions and events leave a certain amount of time for Q&As. This is your time to establish your “claim to fame” - smartly!
Raise your hand to ask an interesting question. When it is your turn, stand up (to be seen) and start by introducing yourself confidently, then ask your question.
Make sure to state your full name and what you do. Say it in an enthusiastic way, so that the crowd will be able to hear you and learn about you.
For example: “Thank you. My name is John Smith, I am the CEO of an innovative healthcare start-up that will change the life of people with diabetes, and my question is…”
This is important- Keep your introduction short and to the point. There is a fine line between introducing yourself genuinely, and losing points by appearing sales-y.
By grabbing people’s attention, the ones that are interested in what you do and who are looking to meet someone just like you at the event will know to approach you after the Q&A!
This approach is about initiating a conversation with other people, and interacting with them on a positive foundation.
1) Immediate common ground
Common ground is like a glue that instantly makes people feel more comfortable with one another. The fact you share an opinion, a friend, a location, and more provides each side with a sense of familiarity that further connects you. Based on that, initiate a conversation or a question about the place you are both at.
For example: Approach the person next to you in the buffet queue and comment (positively) about the food and drinks. Say something about the venue, ask their opinion about the event or the speakers, or ask if they met interesting connections so far. Comment on the decoration, share how impressive the event is, and the like. Then introduce yourself and take the conversation from there!
2) Ask for assistance
Asking for a small assistance is a good way to break the ice, as it initiates a connection based on a good deed that someone is doing for the other person. Then, that request can lead to personal introduction and a small talk.
Possible topics to ask about are:
Directions (Where is the drinks bar?)
Items (Can I borrow your pen? Could you pass me the salt, please?)
Clarifications (Did you hear what the speaker just said? I couldn’t quite hear him/her.)
After that, thank the person, introduce yourself and take it from there. “Thank you! By the way, my name is Roy. Nice to meet you. And you are?”
Most people like to get genuine compliments, even from strangers. This is why this method serves as a great icebreaker as long as it done honestly and with tact.
You can comment on someone’s watch, tie, necklace, hairstyle, sunglasses, and more. You can also tell the speaker you really liked his/her talk and opinions.
Make sure to keep the compliments positive and specific. After you get a response, you can introduce yourself and take the conversation from there.
4) Introduction requests
The good old introduction is always a fantastic tactic. Be proactive and ask a person at the event that you know and share a mutual friend with to make an introduction. A friend that knows you, can recommend you and introduce you well, which encourages a comfortable and familiar environment for all three sides. This way also takes our “shields” down and helps everyone open up and connect rather quickly.
Bonus Tactic- Connect using Bizzabo!
Bizzabo allows you to break the ice online first! You can see who attends their listed events. Then, use this great app to check out more information about the professionals attending, such as their occupation, interests, their LinkedIn profile and even Google their name! When you find someone interesting and suitable for your needs, just be pro-active and send a personal message (before or during the event) and ask when and where you can meet and introduce yourself personally! Easy as that!
Please remember – If you want to maximize every tactic listed, wear your smile, be enthusiastic, and be open-minded to new people! I trust you will rock it!
The next time you are going to attend any Bizzabo listed conference or other events, use your favorite Attractive and Interactive tactics and break the ice like a pro!
If you have friends who can benefit from this article- share it with them!
Network your way to success!
Lirone Glikman is a business networking coach & international speaker. She teaches and drives entrepreneurs and business owners to achieve their business goals and success, through smart creation and management of their relationships and by sharpening their interpersonal skills.
Lirone is known for her energetic, fun yet practical approach that provides hands-on tactics and tools.
She has 16 years of global work experience in marketing & sales and is also a social entrepreneur who runs donation events and projects.