People attend events for various reasons.
Event management personnel know this, so they try to create the perfect blend of fun, keynote speakers, relevant speeches, themes and all that to appeal to the diverse set of audience they could be getting. However, one thing that unites almost all attendees is networking.
As true as that is, many never network right. Afterall, first impressions matter most.
So that you can start, and keep making great first impressions on your contacts, we have developed this fine list of icebreakers you can use.
1) Introduce Yourself
Sometimes, it is just as simple as this.
Identify your target and walk up to them with the intention of introducing yourself.
Now, this approach works best when you have done a little bit of research on the person you are approaching. That way, you can be sure of knowing what they do, and what they would be interested in talking about.
Thus, a simple “Hi, I’m X. It’s an honor to meet you. I’ve seen your works on…” will get the conversation going.
2) Offer help
This works like magic!
Have you ever had someone offer you help before? Even if they didn’t want anything in return, you would feel very indebted to them. Beyond that, you would also be inclined to them. That is the social hack to be leveraged here.
That said, choose your suggestion to help carefully so you don’t come off as intruding.
You could go with “Are you having problems with the Wi-Fi?” “I could help you navigate the app if you wanted,” or any other thing related to the event at hand.
3) Ask small favors
The social hack of offering help is only beaten by the one where you seek a favor instead. We don’t know why this works, but it does work.
You could twist the above around by asking for help with the Wi-Fi, requesting for assistance navigating the event website or app, or just asking to know if there is a coat check somewhere.
Your request has to be genuine, and one which will take a bit of thought on the part of your helper. That way, they are invested in you from the start.
4) Ask open-ended questions
We are yet to see a corporate, public, formal or informal event where people were not willing to talk. Even the most conservative have something to share – and they wish you would ask the right questions to get that out.
This seems like a lot of pressure: knowing the right questions to ask. The truth is that you can let them do all the hard work for you.
Start with simple open-ended questions and watch them answer. Listen attentively and you’ll see what things they tend towards. That is probably what they are more interested in.
If that happens to be something of interest to you, too, keep pulling on that thread.
5) Join a Group
This is one of the most challenging ways to network and break the ice in these events, but you will be glad you did it when it does work.
The key here is to find a group that is already having fun. Given the kind of event you are in, this will be one having intelligent conversations, mingling and having fun at the same time. A simple “You guys are having all the fun. Mind if I join you?” is enough to get you a seat at the table.
We love this move because it usually spirals into getting introduced to the network of those in your group when they come across such people in the same event. Likewise, you have gained a number of connections with one trial.
On the downside, you will get rejected. This can happen – but when it does, know that such a group isn’t one you would want to be hanging out with anyways.
6) Talk about the event
Last, but not least, is this personal favorite of ours.
There is a small percentage of people who would come to an event they are not interested in. Thus, the attendee you are speaking to might be there for a particular keynote speaker, session, exhibition, etc.
You can get the conversation rolling on this front by asking “So, who have you come to see today?,” “Have you seen the [insert item/ product] on display at [insert location]?,” “What do you think about [insert speaker]’s views on [insert context],” and more.
Once you’ve established a common topic with each other, it’s much easier to chat and get to know each other!
Those are some of our favorite event ice-breakers of all time.
Each of us have our own tips and tricks at breaking the ice. How about you share some of your favorites with us in the comments?