Julian’s Business Tips: Seven Networking Openers

Business contacts are important – networking should be a key part of any SME’s marketing. If like me you find it hard to begin conversations in a room of strangers, here are some useful opening lines I’ve gathered.

“Have you been here before?”
• Useful at regular weekly/monthly meetings – if they haven’t, you can share the newbie experience and if they have, they’re usually very happy to give you the lowdown.

“So, what brings you to ‘???’ meeting?”
• It’s a reasonable question to ask – we’re all there for a reason. And if you are asked, answer truthfully!

“Breakfast smells good!”
• Commenting about food is always a win – although I find that saying nice things about it is much better received than being negative!

“So, how was your journey here?”
• The classic Cambridge question – or any city where transport is tricky. There’s bound to be a story about it.

“Hi, I’m Julian.”
• So simple, yet sometimes so difficult. But plenty of people start conversations with me like this. Don’t overthink it, just offer a hand to shake and say the words (then shut up and listen)!

“How’s business?”
• Great in business circles – we all like talking about ourselves. My tip is to answer positively and truthfully – and never invent success stories, they have a habit of finding you out

“Crumbs! I hate networking.”
• This is how I started! I’d see someone else standing miserably in the corner, so I’d walk up and start a conversation about our mutual lack of desire to chat to strangers. It often led to all sorts of interesting introductions!

Finally, once you begin a conversation, ask more questions than you answer. It’s ironic, but people find you much more interesting if you let them talk about themselves! Let me know how you get on!