“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.”
~ James Nathan Miller
As you probably know, each September I make a trip down to Atlanta, Georgia to attend DragonCon. It’s a large science fiction convention and I always have a lot of fun. I also get to see how networking concepts play out in the world of nerd-dom.
One of the cool things about DragonCon is that it has about 40 different programming tracks. Whether you are a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, science, comics, podcasting, cosplay, science fiction literature, etc, etc, etc, there is a track for you. What makes this so neat is that no matter where you show up, you are surrounded by people with similar interests. With any given person, you can strike up a conversation given that common point of interest.
With networking and specifically networking groups, something similar happens. No matter what events you attend, there will be a common purpose or theme that you all share. It makes those first conversations a little bit easier.
- Talk about the group. Ask what they enjoy about this group or, if they are new, what drew them here in the first place.
- Talk about the speaker/panel/speed networking/activity. Whatever the central activity for this event is, you either will be experiencing it, or just did. It does mean you have to pay attention.
- Talk about the event. You can comment on the venue, the refreshments, the parking, the travel, (or for longer events) the hotel, the city, the after hours activities.
- Talk about their experience. Where are they from? Where do they work? What do they do? Whom have they met?
Just like at DragonCon, your fellow attendees are probably where you are because they have similar needs and interests. Use that as an ice breaker to start a new connection that could lead to long-term success for you both.
So, Star Trek or Star Wars?