I know…networking over Zoom is super-tough. And especially when you are meeting someone brand-new on platforms like Lunchclub or via a virtual event. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently published an entire piece on new rules for networking in the pandemic.
The best way to kick-off your networking meeting over Zoom or Meet on a positive note is to consciously use effective ice-breakers that bring up common topics to bond over. Here’s a list of the top conversation starters that work well for virtual networking:
- “I believe you worked at [ORGANIZATION] between [YEARS]. I used to know [PERSON] there back in the day.” — the easiest way to connect on a positive note even with a stranger, is to highlight a common connection. As humans, we look for specific signals of trust-building. Knowing someone in common is probably the strongest one 💡
- “I see you are based in [CITY]. I love [ABC] about it/ Did you check out [YYZ] over there?” — bonding over a shared topic of interest around a location is usually very easy to do and effective too. Even if you haven’t been there, you can always bring up a broad theme around it. Eg. food in Europe, the Tech scene in Silicon Valley, culture in Asia etc. 🌇
- “How has your experience been working at [INDUSTRY/ ORGANIZATION]?” — going beyond just someone’s role at a company, & showing genuine curiosity around the other person’s overall career experience usually touches a passionate chord & allows people to open up 🗣
- “Read your recent [BLOG/ TWEET/ POST] & found it really interesting.” — there can be no stronger show of confidence than highlighting the fact that you took the time to read content recently put out by the other person. I know looking it up on Google is time-consuming, but then there are tools like Workomo that you can use to automatically access this info literally with just one-click & skim it in 1–2 mins ✍🏼
- “With home-schooling & personal chores, it’s been challenging to work-from-home. How have you been managing it?” — bringing up personal stories & experiences around the current remote work situation allows your human side to come out & instantly creates a warm vibe even on Zoom. Also, asking the other person about their similar personal experiences takes the conversation beyond just transactional networking & allows them to bond with you at a much deeper level 🙇🏽♂️
Of course, crafting effective ice-breakers ideally requires one to do pre-meeting prep on the other person’s background, expertise, and interests. Platforms like LinkedIn or software tools like Workomo are great for this. The latter gives you people insights with just 1-click inside the browser, including during Zoom & Meet calls.
In a nutshell, there is no reason why your networking should get weaker in virtual environments. The key is to do effective people-prep before your Zoom meeting, get creative in identifying ice-breakers & not be afraid to use them. Happy (virtual) networking 🙌🏼
PS: read one of our earlier posts on how to do effective people-prep before your Lunchclub meeting.