Networking: 7 tips for striking up a conversation

Heading to a networking event where you don’t know anyone? Don’t sweat it. Here’s some practical advice for breaking the ice.

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It’s easy to be overly aware of being much younger than those around you and feeling self-conscious about a lack of professional experience in some conversations.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

In this setting, it can be difficult to approach people and maintain meaningful discussions. If things aren’t going well, it can be even more difficult to leave a conversation.

Adopting a few simple habits can make meeting people easier and events full of strangers more survivable.

A few things you can try for striking up conversation:

Do some research

If you have access to the guest list for an event, look through it to see whom you know, whom you want to meet and whom you might be able to connect with prior to the event via social networks. At a minimum, read through some recent tweets or blog posts to find a conversation starting point. It will make the initial approach a bit less awkward.

Ask for an introduction

It’s much easier to meet new people through a mutual connection. Ask someone you know or have been talking to for a few minutes to introduce you to someone else. If you’re both still strangers to others, try inviting someone nearby into your discussion. There can be comfort in numbers.

Offer to buy drinks

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