There is an art to starting business conversations at networking events. When you build rapport and gain trust, you increase the likelihood of getting more clients through networking. Use these easy business conversation starters to make the most of your time.
Attend the Right Business Networking Events
Your first step to getting more business through networking is to find the right events to attend. This is actually a lot easier than you might think.
- Go where your best clients would go.
Sounds simple, but it’s one of the most overlooked first steps in business networking. For example, if you’re an IT company and you want to reach accounting companies, go to an event designed for accounting companies, not one for IT companies.
If your best clients would attend an event, there’s a great chance that others like your best clients want to hang out there, too. So, be there!
Business Conversation Starters
Once you are at the right events, start meeting people. If you’re an introvert, all you need is 10 seconds of courage (video) to use a business conversation starter. The rest of the dialog will take care of itself.
Here’s what you say when you mingle:
- Hi, I’m <your name>. [Wait for them to say their name]
- Are you from the area?
- [If not, then ask] What made you move here?
- [This can lead to all sorts of further questions like] What was the hardest part about moving here?
- So you’re an accountant – is that what you wanted to be when you were growing up?
These business conversation starters help you look for common ground. You may have kids in the same grade or school, you may have attended the same college or served in the military, or you may both enjoy golf or biking.
Notice that none of these conversation starters are about your business or theirs. Your goal with networking is to make a personal connection through your business conversations. People bond with others they like.
More Phrases to Start Business Conversations
When you’re at a comfortable point, you can say:
- So, tell me about your business.
- What’s your biggest business challenge today?
DO NOT SELL YOUR SERVICES. Initial business conversations are about building a relationship, not immediately securing a sales meeting.
As Dale Carnegie wrote in his bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, let others talk about themselves. Be helpful in solving their issues. Try saying something like this:
- You know, my company just wrote a guide to show people exactly how to solve the issue you brought up. Would you like a copy?
If you know someone who might be able to help better than you, say something like:
- Hey, I think I might know someone who could help you with that. Would you be open to me making a connection?
Remember, it’s unlikely that someone at a networking event is going to buy your products/services at your first encounter. Use these easy business conversation starters to create relationships.
As you attend these events regularly and continue to be helpful, you will earn the reputation of being helpful to others. That will translate into new business.