Another subject that I wanted to bring to your attention is a recently published book recommended by one of my colleagues. It helps with the starting points for getting and keeping good relationships. My goal as a legal counsel is to connect as well as to deliver good legal counsel. I thought you would find these “icebreakers” to be helpful suggestions.
Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk offers a lot of helpful advice on networking and connecting with people while networking. In her book she includes a list of her top 10 icebreakers. She suggests using them at any occasion where you have few established relationships. We’ve all been at those types of events – school meetings, business events, fundraisers, cocktail parties, dinners, and conferences/conventions where you need to start a conversation with people you don’t know well or those “strangers” you would like to meet.
Top Ten Icebreakers
1. What is your connection to this event?
2. What keeps you busy outside of work?
3. Tell me about the organizations you are involved with.
4. How did you come up with this idea?
5. What got you interested in … ?
6. What do you attribute your success to?
7. Describe some of the challenges of your profession.
8. Describe your most important work experience ….
9. Bring me up to date.
10. Tell me about your family.
According to Fine, the theme to these ten icebreakers is that they are personal, but not too personal. “Your goal is to build a business relationship,” she says, “while still getting to know more about a customer or potential customer. If you are talking to an existing customer, they probably already know you are good at what you do, so you just want them to see you on a more human level.” Thinking about this -when you establish that comfortable connection on the human level, they are more likely to refer you to a friend or associate.
The other thing to note about these icebreaker guidelines is that they give the new person control to decide just how much information they are willing to share and where they want to set the parameters of the conversation. On your part, your job is to help the other person feel comfortable with you as a person. You never want to overwhelm them with complex topics. You never want to slip into insider jargon. And you never want to put your audience on the spot regarding religion or politics.
Many of our friends and acquaintances could be more effective using these 10 icebreakers, so I encourage you to forward this link to them. Let’s all communicate more effectively. And you are invited to contact me, so we can get better acquainted.