Written by Paige Dawson Rodriguez on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
Last week’s post shared how to prep and arrive at an event. Today, we focus on the meatiest and most valuable area: what to ask and say during the event.
REMEMBER: You already have one thing in common with every person in the room. You are all attending the same event, so use this as a safe starting point.
Walk up confidently with a soft, pleasant smile; look the person in the eye; offer out your right-hand to shake (if you and the other person both have a hand free); and introduce yourself. “Hi there, I’m Paige Rodriguez with MPD Ventures. So nice to meet you.” The other person will do the same, really. Then…
You only need to ask a couple of these questions to break the ice and get the conversation to flow. Plus, you don’t want to be able to move from person to person easily.
Depending on the type of event, you may even ask a version or even several of these questions:
If it’s a regular or recurring event:
If it’s a keynote speaker-focused event:
If the person has a plate of food you could use that as an easy starting question and then move into introductions and other questions:
This one sounds odd, I know. This strategy led to a 30-minute business development conversation and, ultimately, new client for us.
To move beyond the event, a few ideas to learn more about the person’s work:
If you want to move beyond work questions, ask:
Overall, I suggest you stay away from politics, religion, dating, etc. topics at networking events. The goal is to make a personal feel welcome and safe in conversation and to build rapport so avoid any controversial topics.
REMEMBER: These questions can go both ways so ensure you have thought about your answers as well.
Our final post for this series will be out next week and cover what to do after the event. The real power of a networking event is how to grow and build that relationship beyond one exchange.