3 steps to becoming a networking rockstar.

Creating connections can be tough if you’re an introvert or struggle with small talk, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We’ve made personal connections an integral part of what we do here at Ruby every day, so we’ve put together a simple three-step process you can follow to up your conversation game. Let’s get started and make some meaningful connections!

Step 1: A Dazzling Introduction

We’ve all done it to ourselves before: the lackluster introduction. “Hello, I’m Jan from accounting.” Right off the bat, we’re talking about work. That’s great if you’re in a job interview, but in a social setting, it’s much more meaningful to talk about who you are as a person. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Instead of introducing yourself with your job title, share an interesting detail about yourself. Are you an avid viola player? Perhaps you train hamsters on agility courses on the weekends. Have you traveled abroad? Share a fact that says something about who you are, not what you do for a living.

For extra pizzazz, follow that up with an immediate conversation starter—and don’t be afraid to throw in a little humor. The great thing about an introduction like this is it enables you to move right into interesting topics without any awkward lulls.

Let’s take a look at some dazzling introductions:

  • Hi Mary! My name’s Jan, and I was lucky enough to travel to Greece with my two sisters this summer. It was magical! Are you much of a traveler?
  • It’s so nice to meet you, Bob! I’m Jan, and I have three children under the age of five. Would you like some stale crackers from the bottom of my purse?
  • Hello, I’m Jan! I can juggle up to six objects at once. Do you have any bizarre talents?

Step 2: Topics that Sparkle

Once you get past the intro, it’s time to really work your magic. Keep your conversation alive by keeping the topics interesting, relevant, and appropriate.

If conversations with strangers are intimidating for you, create a list of questions or topics ahead of time, and keep them top of mind in case you need to re-energize a conversation.

Here are some of our favorite conversation starters:

  • In your opinion, who is the funniest person alive?
  • If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?
  • If time travel were an option, which period would you travel to? Would you still do it if you weren’t able to travel back to the current time?

Step 3: Shine with Active Listening

Here comes the most important part: listen! It’s easy to move from “listening” to “thinking about the next thing I’m going to say” without realizing it. Pay attention to your inner monologue, and when you notice that happening, consider asking a non-autobiographical question instead. Don’t worry that you won’t have the opportunity to speak your piece or tell your stories—a good conversation has a natural ebb and flow to it, and you’ll get back to being the main storyteller before you know it.

Here are some of our go-to questions for practicing active listening:

  • What inspired you to do that?
  • What was your favorite thing about that situation?
  • How did you prepare yourself for that event?

Now that you’ve got the basic steps for having a fantastic conversation, get out there, enjoy those holiday parties and create some connections!

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