It’s always a little awkward being at networking event or party where you don’t know anyone. The onus is probably going to be on you to get a conversation going. Unless you’re an extravert, that’s going to be uncomfortable.
Here are some suggestions that might help
- If there are refreshments, start by getting something to drink first. Chances are you’ll be able to start a conversation in line where you’ll have at least one thing in common with the other person – getting something to drink.
- Make eye contact and smile. I’ve written about these two very important firsts in my previous blog, but I have to repeat them here. Then it starts with “Hello.”
- If you’re in line or standing next to someone you might comment on their clothing or something about them that you like. Personally, I love fashionable shoes and clothing. I often start a conversation telling someone how much I like what they are wearing. Who doesn’t want to hear that?
- If two or three people are standing in a group chatting, make eye contact with one, smile, and ask, “Do you mind if I join you?” Most people are there to network. They really do want to meet you and will include you into the conversation.
- If you’re having a particularly low energy day, get some appetizers and drink and stand at one of the tables that are usually available and wait for someone to come to you. If you’re making eye contact and smiling, they will come. Remember, you don’t have to get every card in the room, just the right one.
If you’re chatting with one or two people, be aware of others in the room who are trying to be included. Be a good networker and smile and invite them into your conversation. You will be ahead of the game with them in terms of how they will trust you if you made it safe for them to be included, and people work with people they trust.