Striking up a conversation with a stranger can be weird and awkward, especially if you’re not the outgoing type.
Have you ever turned down a date because were nervous about not having anything to talk about? But we want to make new friends and network our way to great contacts this year, don’t we? This means that we’ll have to figure out how to talk to strangers.
So whether it’s a blind date, networking event, or just you trying to connect with a stranger you met at a party, these tips will help you know how to talk to strangers:
1. Give them your attention
Paying attention to the next person is a gift people don’t give anymore. These days, people multitask during conversations- half listening to what is being said while checking out the latest Maraji video, and texting on WhatsApp. People love to be listened to. The next time you’re meeting someone new, put your phone away and be present at the convo.
2. Find common ground
Sometimes, the common ground you share with a stranger might be obvious, like a mutual friend. In some other cases, it’s not obvious, but there’s always something. Find the common ground you both share and allow the conversation to grow from there.
3. Ask open-ended questions
Questions that require a yes or no response can make conversations with strangers really really awkward, as we’re sure you must have noticed. Ask open-ended questions because they allow the other person to elaborate on their answer. An elaborate answer means the conversation is still going strong. In the process of explaining an answer, the other person might say something or a few things that lead to other topics and allows the conversation to continue.
4. Give a genuine compliment
Tell us you don’t feel a genuine glow when someone gives you a compliment. Giving a compliment is a great way to break the ice when you’re trying to strike a conversation with a stranger. Please, don’t lie. It’s always obvious and you come off as being sycophantic.
5. Walk over to introduce yourself
Sometimes, the person you’re working up the nerve to talk to is also working up the nerve to talk to you! Take a deep breath, smile, walk over and introduce yourself.
Figuring out how to talk to strangers is daunting, but just remember that people love to talk about themselves. Ask questions about their interests, careers, etc (while volunteering similar information) and you’ll do just fine.
Get some tips on how introverts can become better at networking here.