Sneaky ways to network at conference and events

Attending a conference by yourself can be intimidating. Everywhere you look, there are groups of people, hanging out, laughing, have a good time. There are a few in the corner, busy on their phones, and then there is you – looking at the agenda to find the next session and the best use of the next 60 mins. Sounds familiar? We have all been there! For all the “networking” that is supposed to happen at a conference, the irony is, its pretty hard breaking into a group for the “networking” to actually happen.

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Asking questions is a sneaky way to get the conversation started. Admit it, we have all done that! Here are 5 questions that are great conversation starters with strangers at conferences:

  • Ask if their “wi-fi” working: This is an oldie but a goodie to get a conversation started.  With a little back and forth on this topic, regardless of the answers, use this opportunity to find an opening to talk about the conference, the keynote, the wifi speed, the weather – you get the point.
  • Ask if they are a speaker: Who does not like to feel important! The answer might be a “no”, so be prepared with a conversation opener such – your badge looked different, you were so professionally dressed, I thought I recognized the name etc. Use that opening to then talk about other sessions, and compare quick notes on sessions attended.
  • Ask them a question about what you just heard at a session : This works great if you were both in the same room for the session that just concluded. That generally means you have mutual interests, and asking a clarifying question or providing your POV on the topic you just heard is a great opener. Even something as simple as – Can you believe the speaker had all those numbers memorized?
  • Ask them where they got the snack they are having : See someone with food or drink in their hand? Bingo! Asking someone where the got the snack or how it tastes is an excellent conversation starter! Once you have made your entry with small talk on food, you can move on to move important conversation about the conference and actually network!
  • Ask them if they are local and what they suggest for dining options : This works great if you are at an out of town conference. Not only will open the conversation for you to find your groove, but you might actually learn a thing or two about dining options. Who wants to go back to their hotel and order bland room service?

For those us who are courageous enough, an opening like “Hi, I am ….” might work, but for some of us introverts, starting a conversation with strangers with a question might just be the way!

If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, the epicenter when it comes to conferences, take a look at our guide of things to do while you are there!

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