1. Chris the Corporate
Chris pulls off a three-piece suit so well you would think he was born in one. Apart from his passion for shirts and ties, he also loves using corporate buzzwords wherever possible.
So start by asking Chris where he got his threads from – it’s a secret we’re all dying to know.
From trendy hairstyles to industry awards, you’ll be surprised by how fast a simple compliment can snowball into a deeper conversation.
2. Sarah the Salesperson
Sarah is slick and smooth. She tries to sell to you in every possible way. When talking to Sarah, you’ll need to have an open mind and a little lot of patience.
Ask her questions about the way her product or service works, why you need it and more importantly, the value it would bring to your business.
Kicking off with a question is a sure-fire way to get the conversation flowing. It also creates an opportunity for you to learn more about her. You’ll pleasantly discover that the first question can become a catalyst for many more.
3. Eric the Entrepreneur
Eric is cool and confident, like a reincarnation of Steve Jobs (or so he thinks). So how do you get his mouth moving?
Well, it probably already is… but on the off-chance it isn’t, talk about the startup he’s promoting on his t-shirt – or ask for the product demo he’s been bursting to give.
If you’re standing in a melting pot of different careers and industries, asking someone about what they do is an easy conversation starter, and presents an opportunity to build your own knowledge.
4. Emily the Event Organiser
Emily looks calm, but she’s probably having a mild breakdown every five minutes. Talking to her is difficult because she’s there one second, gone the next.
If you do manage to catch her, tell her how much you like the food, how convenient the venue is to reach or comment on the impressive turnout. Compliment her on the event she’s poured her heart and soul into – and make all her aneurisms worth it.
Don’t forget you’re at the same place at the same time, eating the same food as everyone else in the room. So if you’re looking to pop the cork on a conversation, talk about one of the above.
5. Nathan the Natural-born Speaker
Nathan can talk you under the table. You’ll remember who he is and what he said long after the function is over. If you ever find yourself lost for words, try talking about the weather.
This topic is cliché, but it works. Plus, it’s no problem for Nathan – he can wow the crowd with anything.
Talking about the weather is best if there’s been a major event like a typhoon, or if you’re greeting interstate and international travellers who aren’t used to Melbourne weather.
6. Kelly the Keynote Speaker
Kelly is the main speaker for a reason. If you do manage to get to the front of the queue (past her superfans), ask questions, make comments or discuss articles – say anything to pick her brain.
If there are gaps in your knowledge, now is the time to fill them. With the amount of collective expertise in the room, this isn’t an opportunity you can miss.
7. Nick the new Guy
Most likely a recent graduate, Nick is a sponge ready to soak up any bit of information and advice you have to give. Although he’s shaking like a leaf, he’s still shown up.
Make him feel comfortable by asking him what he likes to do in his spare time. But be warned, there’ll be a few awkward silences along the way.
Hobbies and interests are always nice, casual icebreakers, especially with someone you can’t immediately find common ground with.
8. Ivan the Innovator
Heard about an app that was launched yesterday? Ivan probably has too.
Ivan is always one step ahead of the rest. He’s the first to know about the latest and greatest. If you’ve discovered something new, chances are Ivan has already used, reviewed and developed plans to improve it.
Discussing new products, services, technology and trends is a fun way to start a conversation while keeping yourself up-to-date on what’s hot – and what’s not.
9. Sophie the Social Networker
Sophie is a social butterfly. She can get you up to speed on everything social media, and is always looking to make genuine connections.
If you came with a colleague, why not introduce them? That way, you can tag team a great chat. Plus, by introducing Sophie to new people, you’ll give her the relationships she needs while creating the conversations you want.
But make sure you keep introductions thoughtful, and try to find any similarities between who you’re introducing and who you’re talking to. Let this common ground be your launch pad into deeper, more meaningful discussions.
Now you have nine icebreakers up your sleeve, it’s time to get chatting. But before you do, remember to always start off with a firm handshake – and a winning smile. Good luck!