You walk into a room full of strangers and they're all happily chatting away to each other. How do you break the ice and find someone to talk to?
- Get there early - it's easier to talk to people as they arrive when there are fewer people there and before they get into their huddles.
- Talk to anyone who's on their own - especially if they're looking a little lost. They're probably feeling a little overwhelmed too and will welcome a friendly face.
- Often it's easier to join a group of three people rather than a group of two. Watch their body language - if two people are standing face to face, deep in conversation they may not appreciate the interruption.
- If they're standing at an angle to each other, they may be open to other people joining them. Seasoned networkers tend to be more open and will happily allow someone to join their conversation.
- Smile - catch a person's eye and ask if you can join them. A friendly smile rather than a worried, apprehensive look will make you more approachable in an instant.
- Strike up a conversation at the coffee area - an easy way to start a conversation, as people will usually be on their own and not already engaged in discussion.
Go as a guest with someone you already know - if it's your first time, they can introduce you to the people you already know.
Often networking meetings will have an organiser or introducer who will help new members find their feet, ask them to introduce you to a few people.
Different groups have a different approach and feel. The more you go, the more comfortable you'll feel and after a few visits, you'll no longer be the newbie.