Being remarkable in a networking environment is not rocket science. Be friendly, vulnerable, funny, curious, and eager to help without getting stuck in one place.
As you continue to show up, you’ll learn from others and also learn more about yourself. You’ll be able to ask great questions and be adaptable to any conversation. You’ll need to share your work less, which will allow you to make more introductions. This will make you stand out as a connector.
Ready to shake things up? Avoid the temptation to ask the most common question at networking events: “So, what do you do?” Instead, consider more interesting ways to get people talking.
– How are you feeling?
– How do you like to spend your time?
– What does a day inside your office involve?
– What mindset inspires your best work?
– What’s a recent project you enjoyed working on?
– Are there any roadblocks you’re working through?
– Is there anything I can help you with right now?
– Would you do this work if money weren’t a factor?
– What did you do before your current role?
You only have a moment to make a good impression. It never hurts to throw in a specific topic to help people remember you. Avoid small talk like the weather. Also, family means everything to most people, but avoid going too far down that rabbit hole. Here are a few creative conversation starters to sprinkle in.
– What are your superpowers?
– Where did you travel to last?
– Have you ever been a mentor or an advisor?
– What are you reading or listening to right now?
– How would you describe the internet to a child?
– If you’re a pro wrestler, what’s your entrance song?
– Is there anything that may surprise me about you?
– What’s an interesting paradox you‘ve answered?
– How do you define success? How about happiness?
– Have you ever regretted not doing something?
When it’s time to move on, there is also an art to exiting a conversation. This is handy when conversations have gone on too long. One tactic is to bring more people into the conversation. Kindly introduce everyone to each other. You then have the option to stick around or excuse yourself. Even if you leave the chat, your energy will remain a part of that new conversation as you mingle elsewhere. If you’re at a networking event, another approach is to joke that it’s time for both of you to go meet more new people. This lighthearted suggestion eliminates any awkwardness.
If you’re the one holding conversations too long, you’ll know it when people try similar exiting tactics on you. To improve your relationship-building skills, stop draining the energy from each interaction. Be cognizant of how long you hold onto each conversation. Abandon the idea that everything must happen in one exchange. Even if it feels abrupt, don’t be afraid to move away from conversations before they feel complete. Ending interactions a bit early leaves room for more conversation next time. This creates a subconscious gap to fill and therefore more reasons to reconnect.