Networking Method: Break the Ice by Warming Up Your Questions
July 14, 2011 3 Comments
You know that asking questions is a great way to break the ice, but has it ever felt awkward to jump in with a question? Do you sometimes feel that asking a question right off the bat is too abrupt?
An easy solution is to have a lead-in observational comment, followed by an optional transition statement, and then to ask a question.
Observe–Transition–Ask (or just Observe–Ask)
1. Observe. Make a comment on something that you and the other person can both observe or that you have in common (event, situation, something you see). It doesn’t need to be witty.
2. Transition. (optional) Make a transition comment that relates #1 (your observation) to #3 (the question) by revealing a tidbit of information about yourself. You can often skip the transition, but by revealing a tidbit of information about yourself, you foster a sense of connection.
3. Ask. Ask a question, preferably an open-ended question (one that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”).
Below are a couple of examples of how to use this process. Try jumping from step 1 to step 3, without the transition statement. It works, but by adding a transition statement, asking the question seems more natural, more conversational, doesn’t it?
Example: A party
1. Observation comment: “They have quite a spread here!”
2. Personal tidbit: “That shrimp looks really good.” (This subtly reveals you like shrimp.)
3. Question: What looks good to you?
Example: A networking event
1. Observation comment: “I notice you have an iPhone.”
2. Personal tidbit: “I’ve been using a Blackberry for years, but I’m considering an iPhone.”
3. Question: “What do you like about the iPhone?”
What are other “in-common” observations that you have found to be good conversation starters?