Five Ways To Break The Ice When Networking

Professional networking is a great way to build working relationships, experience professional growth, and meet more experts in your current field. But sometimes it can feel awkward to approach people that you don’t know, even in a networking environment.

If you’ve ever felt like it was difficult to break the ice with new contacts here are 5 easy tips to make new connections:

1. Do your research

No matter what you do, always make sure to spend some time researching before any networking event. Anything you can find out about the event that you’re attending or it’s hosts will benefit you while making new contacts. The information that you learn beforehand can give you something to talk about while networking, and will signal to others that you are willing to listen and learn about the latest news.

2. Compliment the work of others

Everybody likes when their hard work is recognized, and it’s perfectly acceptable to complement your new connections on their efforts. Just make sure that you mean what you are saying, as genuine praise can be a good way to start things off with a new contact. You can compliment anything they’ve worked on, their presentation style, or anything else you can think of. The key here is to keep it professional, it’s not necessary to mention appearance.

3. Pay attention to your surroundings

If something is going on around you don’t hesitate to reference it to break the ice. A new building renovation, or an interesting appetizer passing by can act as ice breakers when building a professional network. Make sure you maintain a positive attitude when commenting on our surroundings, and it’s always a best practice to comment about things rather than people.

4. Ask leading questions

If you are asking simple questions the chances are that you will receive short answers. Try instead to formulate some open-ended questions and keep them on hand when you feel like you might need them. The best technique to keep the conversation afloat is to follow up with more open ended questions. For example, if you ask your contact what they do for work, you can follow up by asking why they were inspired to enter that industry.

5. Be useful to others

Many event members will have similar questions about things like food, bathroom locations, or where to find the water fountains. If you inform yourself about these common needs you can use the information as easy icebreakers. When in doubt, you can always rely on the classic question: “do you know what the wifi password is?” to approach someone new.

May 9 at 11:23 am

by Molly Hocutt