Scary scene with frightened guy in black topBusiness networking almost always includes going to cocktail parties and connecting with new people. These events can be rough if you are not a social butterfly.  Yet, if you have the right strategy, a cocktail party is nothing to fear.  One of the first facts that you need to keep in mind is that many other people are in the same boat.  They are also nervously wondering what to say, when and how.  Let’s take a look at some of the creative ways you can start up a conversation at a cocktail party or any other gathering.

Tip One-Arrive Early

People worry about being the first in at a party.  However, if you are one of the very first guests that arrive, it can actually give you the advantage.  You will be able to easily approach other early guests that arrive through the door in a less awkward manner.

Think of it this way-if there are only a couple of people in attendance, wouldn’t it seem weird if you didn’t talk to the one or two other people that are at the party with you?  You also have something obvious to talk about, namely the fact that you are the first two or three people to arrive!  This factor relieves the potential struggle to find commonality with a stranger.

Keep in mind that when new people arrive through the door, they will gravitate towards your group and introduce themselves.  Of course, this saves you the work of introducing yourself.  It also serves to give you something of an upper hand in the entire process!  The simple fact is that there is no replacement for arriving early.

Tip Two-Experiences and Trips

People like to talk about their travels or interesting recent experiences.  Try asking, “Do you travel a lot?” or “So have you been anywhere interesting lately?  I’m trying to decide on where to go for a trip.”  These conversation starters can be enough to get things going surprisingly well.

Questions such as, “Do you have pets?” or “What kind of music do you like?” are clear indicators that you are forcing a conversation and don’t know what to say or what to do.  Instead focus on asking others questions that have to do with a decision that you are attempting to make.  If people believe that you are truly seeking some advice on something tangible, they will usually warm up to you in no time.

Tip Three- Stay Well Informed About Current Events

Make sure that you read the newspaper and latest online headlines the week of the party.  In particular, the breaking entertainment and sports stories can be great conversation starters.  Plus, if you hear a discussion about an occurrence you’re familiar with, it will be easier to jump in to the conversation.  Of course, be sure that stick to safe news topics like current events.

Don’t be afraid to inject your own creativity into this approach/model.  Different situations afford different opportunities.  It isn’t necessary to depend on a cookie-cutter approach to striking up a conversation at a cocktail party. For example, maybe it is a very stormy night and talking about the weather actually does make sense.   Above all else, be approachable, non-judgmental and fun when dealing with others.