1. Be an ‘ambassador.’ If you feel uncomfortable approaching strangers at, say, a chamber business mixer, you can volunteer to be an ambassador for that group. In this role, you are in effect a host for the chamber, which makes it easier and more natural for you to greet people and say, “Welcome to our event. My name is [your name]. I’m an ambassador for the chamber and …” Before you know it, the ice is broken and you’re engaged in conversation.
2. Get involved. Opportunities to learn the art of networking abound, and often in places you may not have considered. Do you do volunteer work for a cause you feel passionate about? You can help organize committees, recruit other volunteers (on the phone or in person) or help solicit donations for your group’s worthy cause. You start off talking about the project and the next thing you know you’re chatting about any number of topics.
These can be effective opportunities for meeting new people — many of whom could be future clients.
3. Be an influencer. Another way to break the ice is by speaking formally to a group about a specific topic. People have become great networkers by joining a parent-teacher association, where there are opportunities to speak on behalf of the children, or by speaking at a political event for a local or national aspiring candidate. Once you have presented the platform of a political candidate to a group of voters that you can sway with the power of your words, you can present yourself, one-on-one, in an equally engaging manner.