“It was awkward and painful,” my friend said.
That’s how she described attending a professional meeting where she didn’t know anyone.
She was at a loss for how to melt the ice and warm up to others. Especially professionals she perceived to have more experience and knowledge than her.
Here was someone who has so much to offer anyone lucky enough to engage in conversation with her. Yet her reluctance to initiate interaction caused her to avoid eye contact and miss out on the potential network relationships sitting around her.
Extroverts Don’t Own Networking
I have had a life-long fascination with people who have a natural preference for introversion. They think that they’re really bad at breaking the ice and talking to people they don’t know.
These people (you know who you are) also think they’re bad at networking which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In my experience, they may not work the room and come away with the most business cards. But the few people they do meet are usually meaningful connections. Those connections actually have a higher chance of continuing on after the first meeting.
That is how you build a great network, one relationship at a time.
Helping Attendees Get Connected
In today’s global networked world, your success is determined by the breadth of people you know. It’s about how quickly you can get the information or resources you need to do your job faster, better or easier.
The more people you meet who live in worlds you don’t even know about yet, the stronger your network will be.
Conferences offer a unique opportunity for new connections to occur. It’s critical for meeting professionals to pre-educate attendees on the importance of stepping out of their comfort zone to make new connections.
This can be done with
- Short informal YouTube videos
- Blog posts or
- Direct emails
You know your attendees are coming to network, so why not help them make sure that happens? Helping your attendees expand their network will result in positive ratings and on-going buzz that they will spread about your meeting.
Ten Proven Defrosting Questions To Warm Up Networking
How you phrase your first opening question, online or in person, is critical to capturing the attention of the receiver. You have less than 15 seconds to do it.
People are moving at warp speed. You simply won’t break through the million thoughts running through their mind or get them to stop and pay attention to you if you’re not compelling.
Here are ten proven defrosting questions to help your attendees feel more confident in taking the first step in warming up to new connections with anyone, anywhere, anytime:
- This is my first time at a meeting like this, how about you? What brought you here?
- Tell me about yourself and how you spend most of your time?
- What has been the best part of your week so far?
- What do you like doing when you’re not at work?
- What do you love about your profession?
- What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on in the past year?
- What keeps you up at night, what’s your biggest challenge?
- What’s your number one customer’s biggest concern right now?
- Who do you most admire in your company and why?
- What do you wish your coworkers really knew about you?
These defrosting questions will give your attendees the confidence to start conversations that will lead to amazing connections and opportunities. The world is waiting to meet them!
What are some defrosting questions that you would add to this list? What are some other ways you can support attendees in making new connections?