Holiday parties and other year end activities can be a lot of fun … for most people.
But not for everybody.
I regularly have clients bring up how they dread going to work-related holiday events. So, what’s the problem?
They hate the idea of mixing/networking in a room and many have difficulty knowing how to easily start a conversation with a stranger.
You know there has to be a better way than just sticking out your hand, introducing yourself, and staying, “Hi. What do you do?”
It’s not as if that’s so bad, but you’re right There’s a better way.
And we talked about it in this article on the “new way to network.” ?
Once you get past the idea that events like this … which feel very much like “official” networking events … are about building relationships vs. selling yourself, starting up a conversation with a stranger will become painless and maybe even kinda fun.
Simply thinking of these interactions differently can help, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few intriguing, open-ended questions you can ask to help grease the skids and lead to a flowing, very natural conversation.
“How’d you get started in this business / your business?”
“What do you love most about your work?”
“What’s the most notable trend in your industry?”
“How has the economy affected your business?”
“Who’s your ideal client?”
“What do you do with your free time?”
“What’s that woman over there doing with that lampshade on her head?”
Can you just feel, as you read these, how questions like these lend themselves nicely to kicking off a conversation with someone in a more real … less awkward … way?
Okay, the last one is circumstance specific, but ya never know.
Of course, it’s important to actively listen to the person’s response, so you can follow-up with additional questions, such as, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “Where do you see things going from here?”
The beauty of this approach is you don’t need to worry about what you’re going to say!
The pressure’s off. The other person will be doing 85% of the talking, and we all know how people like to talk about themselves.
So, everybody’s happy, and they’ll think you’re a great conversationalist!
And what about possible connection beyond this conversation?
Can you help your new friend solve a need? Do you know someone else who might be a good person for them to meet?
Think in terms of making a new friend and being there for them the way you would for an old friend, and voila, what was once uncomfortable becomes a pleasant way to mix and mingle.
SO … Got a client mixer coming up? A holiday party? A tailgate party? Drop one or two of the questions above on ‘em and see what happens.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily the conversation flows.