How To Start A Conversation

How To Start A Conversation

I know we’ve all been there; you see that attractive person across the bar or that perfect connection at a networking event. You see them either looking at their phone or just scanning the room, clearly waiting to be social. You’ll also see this at almost every bar ever and a lot of networking events.

But you are thinking, what do I say? How do I do it? What happens if? I am going to teach you how I was able to practically talk to these high end people at these events. Lets learn how to start a conversation.

People will show up to either of these events and only stay with the crew that they came with. If you are lucky, your crew will be somewhat social and talk to one or two different people. Of course, that is what you guys will talk about for months, just those two girls or one person at a networking event.

No more. You should have a lot of people to talk, this is what creates that magic c word that everyone talks about.

Confidence is the word, not sure what you were thinking.

I will definitely make an article on what confidence really is and how you can practically get it. No, its not something you are born with and it can be taught, and it can be created.

Anyway, let’s practically learn how to start a conversation.

We’re made to be social! Before the internet and before cell phones, what did people do? They met people at bars. Also, my parents met at a bar and their marriage is just as strong. I always love hearing their story.

Anyway, the stories that you will create with your old and new friends by simply going up to people at a bar. The stories you will have at networking event that will then lead to an amazing career opportunity is something you will reflect on years later. You will not regret it.

But how do you do it? What do I say? Lets talk about it.

Ideally, I would like for you to learn how to start a conversation without any sort of external stimulus such as alcohol, marijuana (if it’s legal in your state), or anything else. The reason is if you can go up to people sober it’s a lot more transferable and you will not be reliant of anything else. You see that person during the day or a new executive at work, you can still go up to them saying these things.

If you strictly rely on alcohol to go up to anyone ever you are limiting yourself a lot. Missing out on great business opportunities and an amazing potential relationship. Also, if you are hammered and you try to start a conversation with someone at a bar, talk about a turn off. They will run the other way.

I’m sure you can tell by now, but I intentionally being gender neutral. I have had girls come up to me at bars, I’ve seen girls go up to girls, guys go up to guys, and guys go up to girls. What we are going to learn does not care about gender or sexual preference. It is very universal.  

Let’s get started! Finally.

There are four categories you can choose from on how to start a conversation. I would recommend experimenting with these and seeing what you enjoy the most and have seen the most success with.

Functional:

This one is great because it is very low-risk at a bar and non-intrusive in a networking setting. These include something like, “Hey, my phone died, what time is it?” Or, “do you know how to get to in n’ out?” (Something I say a lot). This may sound intuitive, but you would be surprised how nervous people are to just do this.

I know you are thinking, well I go up to someone at a bar and say this, they answer, then what do I say next? A very common problem especially with this category. I will write a separate post all about what to say after you ask this question. This is also a great way to practice empathy, which I wrote a lot about here.

Opinion:

Another low(ish) risk that can have a great result which is also non-intrusive. It is very self-explanatory but I know you want some examples. Some basic ones are, “my friend and I were wondering why girls never go up to guys at bars?” “Do you think the Minnesota Vikings have a shot this year?” (<- easy question).

In an office setting, “how do you think that meeting went?” Most people want to be friendly, very rarely will you get a rude response. Usually isn’t your problem if they are rude.

In an office setting, “how do you think that meeting went?” Most people want to be friendly, very rarely will you get a rude response. Usually isn’t your problem if they are rude.

You may be again thinking, “Tom, duh, please give me better information.” First thing, sorry. Second, this isn’t intuitive, and a lot of people need some sort of structure when interacting with people.

Remember this entire website is very practical tips on how to meet people. This is how you start. You may be reflecting on times you have done this in the past without thinking, Congrats, you are more sociable than majority of the population.

Observational:

Again, very self-explanatory. This is simply something that you and the one you are trying to go up to are experiencing together. Examples are, “how did you make it so cold here?” “Did you see the new cafeteria?” “Of course the Minnesota Vikings fumbled.” This comes from a place of empathy because you are experiencing that event together.

This one is also low risk and not intrusive at any setting. The words don’t necessarily matter, it’s the body language and delivery that is a lot more important in all settings. You guessed it, I will of course talk about voice and body language a lot on this website.

Compliment:

The most interesting one for the last one. This one is a higher risk and more intrusive. I would recommend doing the first three in a professional or networking setting. This is better for a bar or club setting since it can be taken the wrong way at work. Of course it comes down to the delivery, however, in your early stages with this I would suggest to wait.

Next, there is one main category you need to know when you go up to someone and use this.

Make sure to compliment on something they worked for or attained!

Complimenting someones eyes or smile is fine, but if you really want to stand out this is the way to do it. Most girls take forever to get ready so a great compliment would be something like, “I love the way you matched your earrings with your dress.” Or whatever they matched, I think you get the point.

This is something they actually were conscious of as they were getting dressed. Very important. Hair is also a very good compliment since people work a long time to get their hair right.

In a professional setting complimenting a sports jacket or the report they just turned in is a great way to initiate without making them feel uncomfortable. This category seems very simple but it can be dense.

Conclusion:

I have now showed you some very practical lines to say that all can be put in some sort of category. AS well as the categories itself. I would start with a functional one just to get the muscle going on going up to strangers. Before you know it, you’re subconscious will take over and deliver great lines.

This will then be a habit. The amount of connections and relationships you will develop will be endless. Remember, people are made to be social, no more being comfortable on going out with your friends and not talking to someone new every night.

A great way to start is the next time you go out with your friends or go to a networking event, tell yourself, or your friend if you are comfortable, to try at least ONE of the categories I listed. Then just watch and see what happens.

Also, once you get get good at this you will being to help others on how to start a conversation. This well then help you even more when learning this process.

I will explain plenty about body language and the delivery of all these lines, which is typically more important than the lines itself.

Lastly, my usual book recommendation here, I will highly highly recommend the book, “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazi. Make sure to check it out here!

I would love to hear examples of lines you have used in the past that have led to both failure and success!

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