Breaking In

Thanks to Adriana P. for today’s question who, in anticipation of attending a conference, asked:

Do you have any tips on how to break into conversations at events?

It can certainly feel awkward to join a group with an interaction already in progress.  But, hey, it’s a networking event, right?  Here’s a step-by-step way to become part of the conversation:

Step 1:  Simply walk up to the group and stand there.  Unless the focal person in the discussion is somebody with some celebrity who others are trying to get physically closer to, human nature tends to cause us to step back to bring new people into the circle, so you won’t be standing on the outside for too long.

Step 2:  Join in.  My hope is that someone in the previously established group will take the initiative to welcome you to the conversation.  However, if that doesn’t happen, wait until there is a lull in discussion and say something like, “I didn’t mean to interrupt; just wanted to join your discussion and introduce myself…”  If the group is still not receptive, find another group.

Step 3:  Ensure conversation continues.  If your introduction seems to have stalled conversation, be ready to jumpstart the interaction by asking a question such as, “How are you all enjoying the conference?” or “Who are some of the best speakers you’ve heard so far?”

Step 4:  Welcome others.  Don’t forget how you felt approaching the group… if you see other eventgoers who look lost or anxious, be the one to make them feel welcomed and comfortable joining your group by inviting them into your circle.


Do you have stories to share about experiences joining conversations at events?  What’s worked for you?  What has not?  Please take a moment to educate the CLC Community by leaving a comment.

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