We've talked about the fact that your career is your most important financial asset. If you really want to grow it (and your income), and you should, networking is a key skill you'll need to develop. But mixing it up with others can be awkward, especially for those of us who aren't great at small talk.
Luckily, I stumbled upon some help. Fox Business lists eight opening lines to network like a pro. Here they are with my comments on each:
“I just tried a slider from the buffet table, and I think I’m going to grab another. Care to join me?”
I hate that this one is first because it sounds cheesy to me. I don't like/use it personally.
“I was just on LinkedIn and saw that we went to the same college.” Or … “I saw on LinkedIn that you also worked with so-and-so!”
Love, love, love this one! Finding something in common (church, running, books, schools, etc.) with someone else goes a looooong way to establishing a good (and easy) connection.
“How long have you been a member of this organization?”
Not bad. I also use "how long have you worked there?" and so forth once I find out a bit more about them.
“I read your book!” Or … “I was really impressed by the speech you gave at an event last year.”
As you might imagine, people love this one. I've used it a time or two and have had it used on me too. It works.
“What do you love about your job?”
This sounds like an interview question to me. Skip.
“I’ve worked here for several months, but I’ve never been to the penthouse floor before. Great views!”
This is the sort of small talk that kills me.
“Are you from [insert locale]?”
Any sort of question about the person, where they work, where they live, etc. is good in my book. People love to talk about themselves.
“Did you see all the wacky stuff they’re giving away at the sponsor tables?”
And he responds, "I'm a sponsor and resent you calling my stuff wacky." Skip.
Personally, I think if you just like people and are curious about them, you'll do fine. Ask all sorts of questions about them (not too personal) and once you hit on a common connection, and then go with it. This generally works with all but the least cooperative partners.
How about you? What do you think of these suggestions? Do you have any of your own?