Let’s face it, networking is awkward!
It’s uncomfortable and no one truly knows what to talk about. It’s true.
Luckily before I became an entrepreneur, I had 10+ years of experience as an actor to help me fake my way to look and sound credible.
I was able to use my stage charisma, listening, and improv skills to win the hearts and minds of everyone I met with at networking events and parties.
Not so luckily, I didn’t always know what to talk about. Sometimes my charm could only go so far that I’d be left looking like a deer in headlights.
If I’ve learned one skill that’s essential as an entrepreneur, it’s that it’s necessary to have a few ice breakers up your sleeve so that you can become more comfortable around new people and be more confident in your own skin as you meet people who can either help support or grow your business substantially.
Here are three icebreakers that you can use at your next networking event:
1. Be completely honest about how crappy your day was
Let’s face it. You’re a human being and everyone else you meet with is also a human being! So often, we think we need to lead with our best pitch in order to impress. That’s not the case.
The best business is done when you’re being true and authentic. Feel free to tell people how frustrating it was to wait in traffic for 2 hours to get to the event or that you recently had to put your dog to sleep. These real life circumstances show others that you’re real and have honest feelings. This builds instant trust and rapport.
Just be sure to avoid having an entire negative-Nancy party, you can save that conversation for your therapist. Always end this type of ice breaker on a positive note.
2. Tell an embarrassing story
An embarrassing story that happened to me was when I first became a yoga instructor, I sometimes make mistakes in explaining different postures to my students. One day, instead of saying “lower your heels to the floor” I said “drop your balls.”
Whenever I tell that story to people at networking events or cocktail parties, I always get a good laugh and people end up telling me their embarrassing stories. Go ahead and brainstorm a few good stories before the next time you end up meeting new folks.
3. Describe your favorite meal
If you live in a major city, chances are most city dwellers are foodies. Think about that one restaurant where every single plate was created with love. The food made your taste buds jump off into the stratosphere and made you want to type in a glowing Yelp review.
Be sure to share this experience with new people you meet. Not only will it give you guys something to talk about, it’ll give you a good experience to go dine at the restaurant together which will give you a good excuse to keep your relationship going.
The most important idea to remember here is that you need to prepare your icebreakers. This is important because you won’t have a chance to think about them when you enter a networking environment.
Be sure to show interest in who you’re talking with and don’t be afraid to be completely honest and vulnerable. Remember that you’re a human being and so are the people you’re communicating with. Having this type of mindset will allow you to be more comfortable and at ease when you begin to create and nurture new business relationships.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Max DuBowy is a relationship management coach for new and experienced entrepreneurs who want to go from awkward to confident in any social setting. If you’re ready to go from shy and forgettable to the friend everyone wants to do business with, visit YourSuccessLaunch.com for coaching opportunities and tips for boosting your confidence and personal happiness. Connect with @MaxDuBowy on Twitter.