Networking 101: Two simple ways to start a conversation


So there you are at your bar association or chamber of commerce mixer. Lots of people you don’t know but would like to meet. “I should talk to them. . .”. but you don’t because you don’t know what to say. So you find a familiar face and talk to them instead. Sadly, another networking opportunity has passed you by. Oh well, maybe next time. . .

If this sounds familiar, I’m here to rescue you. I’ll share two very simple ways to initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know.

Before I do, I should point out that if you are at a function where the attendees are expected to mix and meet, like a bar association or chamber of commerce meeting, talking to people you don’t know is expected and not at all hard to do. Just introduce yourself: “My name is David, what’s your’s?”


After that, ask them what they do. Let them do the talking. Ask more questions. Ask for their card.

Of course they’ll ask what you do and ask for your card. Presto-chango, new contact.

What about when you’re not at a mixer or other organized function where meeting new people is part of the agenda? How do you start a conversation when conversation isn’t expected?

This is also easy. You can either,

  1. Ask a question, or
  2. Pay a compliment.

“Do you know where the rest rooms are?” “Hey, I like your tie?” “Is that a Coach bag? It’s gorgeous.” “What time does the program start?” “Do you work near here?”

Either way, you will get a response and a conversation will have ensued. What to do next depends on the circumstances. When in doubt, another question usually keeps the conversation going.

What do you do to break the ice with people you don’t know? Please share your experiences in the comments.