How To Manage Ice Breakers At Networking Events

By Rebecca Batisto

How To Manage Ice Breakers At Networking Events

We have all attended corporate social events, company picnics, networking expos, after-work drinks, and team-building seminars. They are great places to get to know your colleagues and peers much better, develop new and strengthen current relationships while getting a sense of your industry or workplace’s current feel and culture. However, they necessitate conversation and, in some cases, group led activities and icebreakers. For some, these social situations can be a source of anxiety and uncertainty, so we hope to demystify things by helping you to prepare your answers.

The Questions and Games

It’s not hard to find list after listof icebreakers used for team building and socializing. For most questions, the answers should come pretty easy; you know your name, where you went to school, what you wanted to be when you grew up, or your favorite type of food. Getting into the more “fun” questions is where people tend to get stumped; what sort of animal would you be? If you were a flavor, what would it be? What historical figure would you most want to meet? First thing’s first: breathe. They are silly questions meant to loosen you up, so be loose. The next thing? Don’t overthink it. While you want to apply some manner of professional filter, go with what first comes to your mind since it’s often the most genuine.

Take a page from trained improvisers and don’t try to be the funniest person in the room, because that also leads you to mental paralysis as you try to rifle through ideas in hopes of finding the “right” or “best” one. Again, the comedy, if appropriate, will come if you answer honestly. Like, “I’d be a dog because my dad was allergic, so I’ve never actually had a dog. As a dog, I could hang with other dogs all the time!” See? Kinda’ funny and kinda’ sweet.

If you struggle in social situations, you can also prepare yourself by having some quick answers in the chamber for questions that you initiate instead.

The Tricky Part

If you’re at a networking or social business event, you’re looking to generate interest in your work. But how do you do that without coming off as self-centered or self-serving? One of the easiest methods to speak about your business is to make it about the other person. Listen to their icebreaker answers, build a bit of rapport based on the information you collect, and see if you jive with them as a person. Once you’ve created some comfort, you can ease into more targeted questions like, “What brought you to this event?” or “Do you work in the area?” or even “Do you find that industry has a lot of accidents?” Allowing them to share will enable you to reciprocate with your own answers and, well, marketing without seeming pushy.

Make it Fun

You could also combine the best of both worlds to really break down the walls. Take some of those silly questions and throw them into your business questions. Did you talk about some TV show you’ve been binging recently? Great! Ask your new contact, “Which character would you be most likely to hire as an intern?” (Maybe avoid Ramsay Bolton) Not only will this show that you are interested in the other person’s interests, but that you can think on your feet, are easy-going, and worth making time for.

The Elevator Pitch

If you haven’t seen it yet, you may also want to check out our article on elevator pitching. Events where you’ll encounter icebreakers are a likely opportunity to use your pitch effectively. As always, so as to not be “that person,” it’s best to read the room and wait to be asked for it, rather than foisting yourself upon some unsuspecting person in line for a free hotdog. However, most times, the question, “What do you do?” will inevitably come up, and if you’ve taken steps to prepare a solid elevator pitch, you’ll be ready to deliver.

Be Mindful

The most important thing to remember at networking events is mindfulness. Pay attention to whom you are talking to and respect their interest levels. If you feel conversation petering out, let it be and maybe circle back to them if you think a relationship is worth pursuing. Additionally, don’t let one person monopolize your time. If the conversation is going great, exchange business cards or contact info to follow up the next day, set a coffee date, or schedule a consultation, but don’t stand there talking with your new best friend for an entire event. You’re there to network, so the more people you can meet, the better. Finally, be mindful of your energy levels, and step away as needed to take breaks with a snack or even a quiet moment. These sorts of events can be a marathon and draining, and you don’t want to risk a lousy first impression because you’re starting to get burned out.

A well-planned networking or corporate event can be a blast. It lets you engage with your peers outside the context of the workplace. While this can present its own challenges, as often people struggle to remember their colleagues are real humans with real lives outside the office. Prepare so you can try to avoid the paralysis of social anxiety or a need to one-up everyone else in the room. Be gracious, courteous, and yourself and the right people will want to work with you.

Are you looking for someone to work with? We at Normandy Insurance always welcome new team members and are happy to have a great conversation about it! To look into opportunities to work with us or general information on workers’ compensation insurance and more, explore our website at https://www.normandyins.com/index.html

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