Break the Ice at Networking Events

eSAX-Ottawa-Networking-Event (1)When you attend eSAX or any other Ottawa entrepreneur networking event, your goal shouldn’t be to just collect business cards.

These events are the place that you are building rapport that will establish long-term relationships that lead to future opportunities for both involved parties. It takes a good deal of time and effort to cultivate, but it all starts with the initial ice breaking at the first meeting!

How can you set yourself up for the perfect icebreakers?

Change your mindset

No matter how fantastic your opening line might be, it will fall flat if your heart isn’t in it. Be positive and be on the lookout for the diamond in the rough. This means, don’t walk in and decide there is no one good to talk to. Have your mind set on meeting anyone unknown and starting as meaningful a conversation as you would with someone you knew could set you up with a million dollar deal. Treating people this way will make people feel pleased to speak with you.

Mind your appearance

Your appearance, which includes your apparel and your body language, tells others a lot about you. Be business-appropriate in what you wear, and always make sure to have a smile on your face. Don’t forget to use eye contact when talking with others, and avoid crossing your arms.

Ask a mutual acquaintance for help

To start a conversation with an unknown person, you can ask any mutual friend or acquaintance to introduce you. This works perfect if you see someone you already know speaking to someone you don’t already know. Walk up and say hello to your friend and ask them to introduce you.

Directly introduce yourself

If you want to meet someone and you don’t have a mutual friend to do the introduction, you will have to just gather your nerves, focus your confidence, and go right over and say hello. It’s always best to start with your name, and asking them their name and what they do. Remember to hold off on shoving your business card in their face. People want to talk first, exchange cards later. The same goes for your elevator pitch. You want to do introductions first and not just spit out the pitch at them.

Wondering what to talk about if you can’t just talk about what you are selling? Try these:

  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Did you travel far to get here?
  • Have you been to this event before?
  • What TV shows are you into?
  • Do you know many people here? Who?
  • What is the most exciting project you are working on right now?
  • Bonus: “How did you meet Jarrod” (at an eSAX event) OR “Do you know Jarrod?” (at any event around town, as he will undoubtedly be in attendance!)

Ask open-ended questions that show you are interested in the person you are talking with. This is the key to starting a good business relationship.

Breaking the ice becomes easier with practice. Don’t forget to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event so you can make sure to keep practicing your networking skills and building up relationships!

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