Eventually, one of you jumps in with a comment about the weather, the venue, or the quality of the free hors d’oeuvres. Then, soon after, the discussion stalls again and you’re back listening to those cringe-worthy crickets and trying desperately to come up with something else to say.
Well, what if it didn’t need to be like that? What if you could have just a few short and simple stories stashed in your back pocket and ready to go when that uncomfortable silence creeps in?
Good news—you can. Before heading to any sort of function where you might find yourself interacting with strangers, make sure you’re prepared with these three easy anecdotes to keep the conversation rolling.
Rest assured, they’re nothing too complicated—meaning you can actually remember and use them.
1. What You Accomplished at Work That Day or Week
Typically, networking is a professional exchange, which means it’s a great opportunity to discuss any of your career-related happenings.
Whether you want to bring up a big project you finally completed, an enlightening presentation you recently attended, or even an interesting discussion you had with co-workers, chatting about something that happened in your office that day or week is a great way to keep things light, but simultaneously professional.
The best part? Your conversational partner will likely reciprocate—meaning you’ve just gotten the ball rolling on a topic where you can both really learn a lot about each other’s career paths.
2. What You’re Currently Reading, Watching, or Listening To
While keeping conversations professional is always recommended, sometimes it’s tough to fill an awkward lull with something like, “So, let me tell you about my largest career aspirations.”
Sometimes it’s better if you can warm things up with a topic that’s lighthearted and generally easy. This is where your current reading or watch list comes into play.
Are you in the middle of a great book that’s changing the entire way you think about your business? Did you recently check out a podcast you loved or finally start something new from your Netflix queue?
Go ahead and share those recommendations. By using a topic that isn’t overly intimidating, you’ll be able to build some rapport—and you might just get a few new solid suggestions for yourself.
3. What You’re Planning on Doing That Weekend
In a similarly laid back and upbeat vein, talking about what you have planned for the weekend is another great way to get a conversation started.
Maybe you’re attending a concert you’ve been looking forward to. Perhaps you’re running the half marathon you’ve been training for. Or, maybe you have some sort of family event planned.
Regardless of the specifics, kicking off with something somewhat personal is a great way to get the conversation moving—and, can also help you to uncover a few shared interests.
We’ve all experienced those slack-jawed moments while networking when we have no idea what to say next. Rather than cringing in silence, be armed with these three simple and easily remembered anecdotes, and you’re sure to prevent those dreaded crickets from sneaking up again.
More From Inc.
- How to Build Your Network (When You Don’t Know Anyone)
- How to Network Like a Pro—Even if You’re Shy, Introverted, or Really Just Hate Doing It
- These 10 Networking Mistakes Will Get in the Way of Your Success
Photo of people networking courtesy of Jetta Productions/Getty Images.