18 Easy Conversation Starters For Networking Events

I think one of the hardest things about networking events is just getting a conversation going with someone – without being awkward about it.

Approaching someone new can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.

So, what are some natural and easy ways to break the ice? Here are some tips and tricks:

Go Fishing At The Food Table

While waiting in line for the food, start chatting up the person next to you. This is a great opportunity to get a conversation started because you already have something in common: the food. Everyone is thinking the same thing, What am I going to try? What looks good?

So, instead of just standing there in silence, start a conversation. Here are a few conversation starters for this situation:

  • “Oh man, everything looks so good… I’m not sure what to get! What are you thinking?”
  • “Yummy, they have ___! Have you ever tried it?”
  • “Hmm, I’m not quite sure what that dish is… do you know?”

Who knows, you might leave the buffet with a better plate of food AND a new contact! That’s a win-win in my book.

Find A Loner

If you see someone standing alone in the corner, clutching his or her drink, and looking miserable, don’t be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself.  Typically, these people need a little help getting the conversation going.

Here are some ice breakers:

  • “Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?”
  • “Wow, there are a ton of people here! The food must be good, huh?”

If someone is standing alone, he or she is probably feeling uncomfortable or unconfident. If you initiate the conversation, it could make them feel more relaxed and willing to connect.

See all 18 starters and the complete article


6 Ways to Extend Your Online Network for Executive Job Search

by Julia Salem

Is social media a waste of time or a valuable networking tool that can help you stand out to potential employers and executive recruiters? The answer is actually both depending on how you use it. If used properly, social networking gives you a chance to demonstrate your thought leadership and set yourself apart from your competition. As an executive and leader, it is critical to demonstrate your expertise online and manage your online brand with the following tips.

1. Focus on the 3 major social media channels: Many executives are overwhelmed by social media and all of the options available, from niche industry networks to location-specific networks, and of course, the major social networks that most of our friends and coworkers are using. For your executive job search, it makes sense to use the networks that most headhunters and potential employers are using, which include LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. This may also include Google+ for certain industries, such as the Technology industry. To decide which 3 social networks to use, you should find out which sites are currently being used by your coworkers and thought leaders in your industry.

5. Merge your analog and digital networks: Actively attending various types of in-person networking events is still extremely important for executives – including executives who are actively using social networks.  After a networking event, utilize social media sites to reach out to each person you’ve met to connect and follow up. This will make it easier to stay connected to acquaintances you’ve met in-person and effectively expand your online network.

See all six ways and the complete article


17 Ways to Strengthen Your Personal Brand Through Networking

The Young Entrepreneur Council

1. Connect Right After Meeting

You would be surprised how many different types of people you meet each day. So many of them you meet only once. I find that it’s important to connect with them on social media right after you meet them so you give yourself the opportunity to stay in touch and build the relationship.   – Raymond KishkInterstate Air Conditioning & Heating

2. Try Meetup.com

Find a local entrepreneur, startup, tech or whatever kind of group on Meetup.com and go meet some like-minded individuals in your area. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction.   – Andrew NammingaAndesign

8. Reconnect and Ask

I make it a habit to reach out to at least one person each day with whom I’ve not spoken in some time. Best, I ask how I can help and be a resource to them in some way or ask them to set up a meeting or call to catch up. When people trust you and you give first without expectation of something in return, it’s natural and warranted to ask your contact to connect you with someone in their network.   – Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

11. Download Rapportive

Rapportive is a free Chrome extension that links to your email and also connects with LinkedIn. This way, you can build strategic relationships with prospects and new people right from your inbox and, in turn, build your network faster and more efficiently.    – Jayna CookeEVENTup

See all 17 ways and the complete PersonalBrandingBlog post

5 Steps to Networking Success for Introverts


How to shine while making professional connections.

While there are some people who enjoy networking and get a lot of energy from interacting with a crowd, many find it intimidating and draining. Traditional networking is not for everyone.

However, networking is essential in today’s job market. Experts estimate that well over half of jobs are found through networking and word of mouth. The old job search method of comfortably sitting at your computer sending off résumés and cover letters will no longer get you very far.

Luckily for introverts, there are multiple ways to network. Some may bring you a bit outside of your comfort zone, but that’s not a bad thing. Think of these as skills you are developing that could benefit you in a future job.

1. Start from a position of strength. When you’re employed, it’s much easier to promote yourself and talk about what you do. When you network while employed, you will exude confidence. Start building your network from there. And if it’s possible and of interest to you to meet new contacts within your company, begin with them.

4. Be explicit with your requests. Think about what information you can possibly glean from the person you’re networking with. Don’t ask him or her to forward your résumé to human resources or help you get a job.

Briefly introduce yourself at the start of an email, call or in-person meeting, and tell him or her what kind of advice you are seeking. Asking questions will help take the focus off you and allow you to learn a lot about the other person. 

See all 5 steps and the complete USNews article

How to Network Without Begging

by Amanda Augustine

What is the best way to contact connections and ask them for an informational interview without making it sound like you need a favor? Most people think that the person just wants a job, so they do not reply. —M.R., Claremont, CA

I am a big fan of conducting informational interviews as part of any job seeker’s networking strategy, especially if you’re new to the job market or considering a transition to a new field or industry.
They are a great way to grow your connections, promote your personal brand, learn about the job market in your targeted field and uncover unpublished job leads.

However, they’re not about begging for favors. You should never go into an informational interview expecting to come away with a job lead. As the name suggests, the goal of an informational interview is to gather more information and grow your network so you’re better equipped to navigate the job market. A job lead would be a bonus.

But before we talk about how to reach out to your connections, we first need to discuss who you should be reaching out to.

Take a good look at your current network and prioritize your contacts based on their ability to help you. The first group will be people within your current or desired line of work: former colleagues, vendors, business partners, customers and so forth. Hopefully these are people with whom you’ve maintained a friendly, if not close, relationship. Who in this group is actually in a position to know about industry news and job openings? Target those people.

But there’s also another group of contacts that will be incredibly valuable because of their social reach. They are the social butterflies among your circle of friends. You know the ones – they tend to run in a number of very different social circles and love gathering people together and making introductions. Malcolm Gladwell refers to them as “connectors” in his book, The Tipping Point. Whether in your industry or not, connectors like this can be an important gateway to other valuable connections.

This social butterfly will be able to put you in touch with people you might never meet otherwise — and talking you up to connections could help you secure a phone call or lunch meeting. A social butterfly is good at that.

Now that we’ve identified the right people to target, it’s time to discuss your approach.

Professional Connections
When you’ve been out of contact with people you’ve worked with in the past, it can feel very weird reaching out. And you’re right – the assumption will probably be that you’re looking for job leads. To help combat that, I recommend you reconnect before you ask for anything. Send a simple note via email or over one of your social networks saying hi and asking how everything is going. If you’ve noticed they’ve changed companies or passed some career or family milestone, mention it and congratulate them (hint: do a little online research). It’s an easy excuse to reach out.

Subject Line: Catching Up – Amanda Augustine
Hi Bob,
Long time no speak!
How’s everything at Amgen these days? I was on LinkedIn yesterday and noticed you were recently promoted to Senior Director – congratulations! How’s the new gig treating you?
I’d love to grab lunch with you next week and catch up. Let me know if you’re available.
Please send my hellos to Brennan and the boys!

The fall season is also a great time to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to in a while. Find out how their summer was, and now that everyone is back to school and their old routines, it’s the perfect time to catch up over lunch or happy hour. There’s no major “ask” on your part, and it won’t appear like you’re begging for job help.

Once you’ve reconnected, then you can pick their brain about their company or industry, and find out if they can help. Don’t ask for a job. Most people you meet with won’t be able to offer that type of help. And if they have to say no, it makes them less likely to help you in other ways. What you can ask for is a job reference, an introduction to another contact or some insight into the industry.

Personal Acquaintances  More tips and complete TheLadders article

How to Really Make the Most of Connections in a Job Search

By Miriam Salpeter

With summer upon us, some of you job-seekers may think about taking a break from your search. Instead, you might want to ramp up your efforts and consider the new season an opportunity to relaunch any unfinished career plans.

One inevitable aspect of the search? Interacting and engaging with connections—extending your network to tap into the hidden job market. Sudy Bharadwaj is the co-founder and chief executive officer of JackalopeJobs.com, which allows you to log in with your favorite social network and learn which of your connections work in companies that interest you. He has seen many job-seekers benefit from carefully accessing their extended network.

Here are Bharadwaj’s nine suggestions for successfully networking your way to a job:

1. Connect with your network before you apply for positions. Even if you identify jobs via boards or postings, touch base with connections before applying directly. Many organizations prioritize applicants referred by employees. Some companies even give bonuses to employees who suggest candidates who are hired, so some networking contacts may have a financial incentive to pass along your information. Don’t be shy about reaching out and asking for a hand.

2. Rotate your thinking. Bharadwaj suggests: “Instead of finding jobs and focusing on connections in those companies, consider targeting your connections first and investigating who among them may be able to provide a link to a potential opportunity.”

To be successful, it’s important to know what you want and to be able to articulate how you can help an organization solve its problems. Once you know what you offer and how it relates to companies where you want to work, it will be much easier to leverage your network of contacts who can help you land jobs successfully.

3. Encourage your network by making it easy for them to help you. Bharadwaj reminds job-seekers: “Your connections are busy—aren’t we all? It’s up to the job-seeker to be specific when asking for a connection. Forward the job description and information about your background and skills. Tell the contact exactly how he or she can help you.”

4. Be concise and offer easy access to your information. It’s likely your contacts will access your information or email inquiry via their smart phones. Include all key points in the body of your email, such as links to online social resumes or your LinkedIn profile, instead of asking them to download and view your resume.

5. Go wide. Spread out your inquiries; try not to ask one person for too many things. Most people will want to help, but if it seems you are knocking on their door every week, the welcome will wear out quickly.

Tips 6 – 9 and complete US News article