Business networking tips- Getting past hello

Have you ever found yourself standing in the corner of a crowded room, surrounded by strangers, with your palms sweating more and more with every passing moment? Did this nerve-wracking moment of your life happen to be at a networking event or career fair? Never fear! You are not alone, and this does not have to destroy your chances of success. You showed up, you know who you are and what you have done, so being prepared to talk about yourself is the next step. So how do you get past hello? Having a prepared ice breaker and well thought out elevator pitch is a sure way to get past any awkwardness and on to an actual conversation.

Fat Penguin

Think about how you are going to break the ice with a stranger friend you don’t know yet. It doesn’t have to be complicated or entertaining. Simply walk up to someone, introduce yourself instead of waiting to be approached, and start with any of the following:

  • Have you been to one of these events before?
  • Are you a member of the group/ organization/ an alumnus?
  • What brings you here today?
  • This is my first event with this group, what about you?

The list could go on and I am sure you get the idea, but ice breakers are helpful to think about before you go in case of crowd shock.  You’ll look like a pro!

Fake it ‘til you make it

This doesn’t mean faking your experience. It just means faking your confidence by crafting a mini commercial about yourself that is memorable. Having your 15 seconds written and practiced beforehand will save you panic and mumbling when you are asked about yourself.  So what do you say when someone asks, “What do you do?”  You need to state

  • Who you are: “I am an experienced and enthusiastic marketing professional.”
  • Skills that you have: “and use social media”
  • Something that you have achieved or worked on: “to drive my company’s candidate-facing marketing.”

This will help the person you are talking to have a base from which to ask additional questions. Since you are up to date on your skills, it will be easy to elaborate on your experience

Make a connection

Now that you both know a little about each other’s experience, see if you can help them with anything. Since I work at Brightwing I may say,

  • “Do you know anyone who is not happy with their current job, or anyone who is looking for a job? We would love to speak to them about their experience.”

or if they are unemployed or are looking for something new,

  • “Would you like to give me your card? My co-workers would love to connect with you and see if we can help you find something.”

If I were unemployed and looking to make a transition, I could also ask for help,

  • “Do you know of anyone needing my skill set?”

Even if the outcome isn’t a connection between you and this immediate person, they may refer you to someone or vice-versa.


How do you get past hello? If you have any other tips or smooth operator tricks, we would love to hear them!


Author: Elyse Lopez