Striking Up a Conversation

By: Eden Hensley; Photos by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Every day you’re interacting with people. You’re deepening relationships with those you’ve known for awhile. And you’re discovering potential common interests with those you’ve just met. In other words, you’re networking.

Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Sometimes when we meet someone new, we’re at a loss for what to say. We’re nervous because we don’t know enough about the other person.

Practice can help with this. The more people we meet and the more we introduce ourselves, the more comfortable we’ll become.

When I’m trying to find out what might be of interest to a stranger, I’ll share something that’s memorable based on our surroundings. For example, the other day I wanted to strike up a conversation with someone I’d seen multiple times at our local Farmer’s Market but didn’t know. We had both stopped at a berry stand. I inquired about what they were planning on making. When they told me they were an artisanal jam maker, I followed up with how I write a lifestyle blog and was writing about strawberries. They shared tips on which ones to use and we exchanged business cards to talk about a future collaboration.

Meet ups or conferences make networking a little easier. You’re starting with a common interest. And as an attendee, you’re able to tailor some of your introductions.

Start by researching the sponsors. You’ll immediately know what they’re interested in. When they share who they are, you’ll have something you can talk about.

Dive into the schedule and learn more about the speakers. If you’re unsure about approaching someone, speakers are good people to seek out. You know what they look like. Also, others with similar interests as you are probably trying to find them. The speaker may be more of an extrovert and can introduce you to others around them.

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Eden Hensley

Marketing creative, community engagement specialist, technophile, photographer, food and wine enthusiast, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Road to The Good Life, a lifestyle blog about appreciating and enhancing your life by being grateful for the "haves" instead of lingering on the "wants." There you will find personal stories about my life and family weaved in with real-life, achievable entertaining tips, recipes for hearty home cooked meals, and DIY projects for capturing and sharing memories. I believe the best place to swap stories is over a shared meal, preferably a Thai-meal served family style, and teach an online introduction class to Thai Flavors and host the Family Dinners at The Station supper club in San Francisco.