Whether it’s building relationships at a networking event or getting to know an unfamiliar coworker, breaking the ice can be a daunting task. Oftentimes, it’s easy to start but difficult to maintain the conversation or vise versa. Regardless of if you’re meeting a noteworthy celebrity or sparking a conversation between a co-worker, apply these 6 ways to break the barrier at any social setting.
1. OPEN WITH A COMPLIMENT
This can be as simple as an appearance compliment or as impactful as a praise in work. Especially if you are meeting renowned person, compliment him or her on something specific and unique. For example, if that person is an actor, rather than saying, “I loved you in x movie,” tell the person, “I admire how you are so proactive in x charity. You’ve helped so many lives”. A compliment that is out of the norm or not in at person’s primary expertise is going to make a noticeable impression.
2. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
Along with this compliment, ask a question on how he or she achieved that accomplishment. This should not be a simple yes or no question but a question that is going to maintain conversation. For instance, in addition to the, “I admire how you are so proactive in x charity,” also ask, “What encouraged you to choose this particular charity?”
3. ASK FOR ASSISTANCE
Others love to feel like they are an expert. So, with the above statement, also add, “I would love to get involve with x charity. What are the steps I should take so I can make an impact?” Not only complimenting the person’s expertise, but it’s showing that you’re inspired and that you trust his or her judgement in that particular area.
4. OFFER ASSISTANCE
This can be offering a hand in carrying a box or introducing someone to the host or influential co-worker. This will allow the person to admire and trust you because you notice and willingness to help.
5. NOTICE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
An easy, go-to conversation starter can be made by simply looking around and using cues from the room. Try open-ended questions such as:
“How do you know the host?”
“How are you enjoying this position so far?”
“What did you think of that speech?”
“How did you hear about the event?”
6. USE THE S.O.F.T.E.N TECHNIQUE
Smile, Open-posture, Forward-lean, Taking notes, Eye contact, and Nodding is the ideal combination for winning others over to build meaningful relationships.