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10 Professional Networking Conversation Starters

10 Professional Networking Conversation Starters

Meeting new people is always a challenge, especially for an introvert. Yet, a professional network is essential for several reasons. A network keeps you informed of changes and developments in your field as well as offering a lifeline if laid off or unexpectedly fired. Here are 15 ways to get the conversation started and build your professional network.

1. Start With A Compliment

If you don’t feel comfortable complimenting the person, for fear it may be mistaken for flirtation, begin the conversation by complimenting the place where the event is being held. Compliment the food or the drinks being offered by saying, “Wow, what a great spread. These folks really know what they’re doing.”

2. Go Ahead And Talk Shop

It is entirely appropriate to strike up a conversation about what you do and what you do well. The key here is to open up the conversation for the other person so that you are not talking to yourself. Ask what the other person does, how long they’ve been in the profession, etc. for a lively conversation.

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3. Ask For Help

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    Is there a particular aspect of your professional career that needs shoring up? For example, as a freelancer part of my job is connecting with people in need of writing services. Is there a talent or skill that could solve a problem for the other person? In either case, the open question is a good start.

    4. Simply Introduce Yourself

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      Remember to give a firm handshake. A simple, “Hi my name is. . .” is a very simple and great way to strike up a conversation. A polite introduction, of course, gives the other person an opportunity to return the introduction and begin talking.

      5. Talk About Background

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        It helps to be curious about others when striking up a conversation, especially in a professional networking circumstance. You may find common ground while getting to know others. Open-ended questions are always a great way to get the conversation moving.

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        6. Get Personal

        Have a hobby? Sports fan? These may be a good topic to “break the ice” and get the conversation going. Talk about the last book that you read. What points did you find to be the most interesting? The idea is to try to find some common ground.

        7. Talk About Ongoing Projects

        This will hopefully lead the other person into talking about their own work projects. Exchange ideas in an informal brainstorming session. You may be surprised by what you learn. Keep the conversation going by having an open mind, while extending the conversation to others.

        8. Ask A Hypothetical Question

        Asking about what changes the person might like to see in the workplace or where they see themselves in ten years are good places to start a conversation. These types of hypothetical questions don’t need to be work-related, and they can inject some fun in the conversation.

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        9. Ask What Is Most Interesting About Their Field

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          You are very likely to come to some common ground with this question. Be sure to exchange business cards, in order to help their customers or have them help yours. Part of the goal of professional networking is to expand your business opportunities.

          10. Ask What They Hope To Gain From The Experience

          This question will lead to wider avenues of conversation. The benefit of professional networking is to interlink with those both inside and outside of your field. Both types of people help you advance, which is one of the many goals of having a professional network.

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          Last Updated on December 2, 2018

          7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

          7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

          When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

          You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

          1. Connecting them with each other

          Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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          It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

          2. Connect with their emotions

          Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

          For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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          3. Keep going back to the beginning

          Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

          On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

          4. Link to your audience’s motivation

          After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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          Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

          5. Entertain them

          While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

          Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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          6. Appeal to loyalty

          Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

          In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

          7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

          Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

          Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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