As you continue to seek opportunities in every conversation and situation you have, having a solid list of conversation starters you’re comfortable using will ensure you don’t miss a single opportunity. Try these out:
Bring up a shared experience.
Does the listener come from the same area or industry as you? Did you attend the same high school or college? Have you both worked for the same company or boss? Do you both love hiking? What are the circumstances you’re both experiencing right now (i.e. on the plane, waiting in a queue etc.)?
Any common ground you can find with someone is a good way to start a conversation because shared experiences inherently make the other person feel closer to you. Common ground is an even better start if you use it as a reason to ask for information or advice.
Ask for information
“Excuse me, do you know what time the next session starts?” Even if you already know the answer, asking for information can be a great way to start someone talking with you, because everyone likes to feel helpful.
Solicit an opinion
“What did you think of the keynote?” “Did you get a lot out of this session?” “I see you’re having a coffee from the café, would you recommend it?” Most people like knowing that others are interested in their opinions and will be happy to respond. It’s a great way to get them talking about themselves and learn more about them.
Compliment the person
“That’s a really unusual necktie. Where did you get it?” “That scarf is a great colour on you.” “Your carry-on bag looks very convenient to travel with.” Most people like it when others appreciate their taste, so they will likely want to engage with you.
Simply introduce yourself
It might not work as well in every scenario, but getting comfortable with this direct approach could perhaps make it your strongest intro ever. Walk up to the person, offer your hand and say, “Hi, I’m ________. I just wanted to introduce myself to you.” The fact that you went out of your way to meet will make the listener feel important, and the person will probably want to talk to you, as well.