Starting a Conversation
"Approaching someone you don?t know at a networking event can be difficult. People may be standing around talking with people they know and there is no way to break in. But there are many people just like you looking for a way to meet people. I?ve found the reason most people don?t approach others is because they are worried they will have to talk about themselves or they don?t know how to strike up a conversation. The way I approach someone new at an event is to catch their eye, smile, start walking toward them and say something like, ?Hi, I?m Alice Heiman? to which they reply with their name and I follow with ?what do you do?? or ?are you a member of this organization?? and the conversation is started. I listen intently and continue the conversation by asking another question, or if asked, answering and then redirecting the conversation back to the other person. I plan my questions in advance. I always know who the speaker is and have done some research so that I can converse intelligently about that. I research the organization and understand some of their concerns and projects so I can ask about those. In every case I try to get the other person talking about something they are interested in so I can learn about them. At the end of the conversation if I am interested in knowing more I ask for their card. If the conversation has been about their business I try to end with asking what type of business they are looking for so I can send business there way. Approaching someone you don?t know can be easy if you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and learning about them. (c) 2010 Alice Heiman, LLC LAM-001-00435 "