What makes a good ice breaker?
While a fat polar bear is a solid punch line, the ability to break the ice with anyone is something that every job seeker should have in their job search arsenal.
After all, more jobs are made in conversation than job boards and unsolicited resumes can ever dream of having. People-to-people is a more natural way to get hired, the right way, the first time.
That’s where icebreakers come in. You’re not going to get anywhere in a conversation if you don’t break the ice first. And, I don’t mean those cheesy games your homeroom teacher made you play on the first day of school.
Ice breakers can be used online and in-person, however, they’re different for everyone. If you want to kick off a stellar conversation with a potential networking contact, mentor, or even your next boss, consider trying one (or more) of the following ice breakers: [tagbox tag= "networking"]
Drop a name (or two)
Have you ever heard the expression, “it’s all about who you know”? It definitely works. Having at least one mutual contact can be thing you need to get into any conversation.
Don’t think that dropping a name is going to land you in the nepotism dog house, but don’t drop names that are not a solid reference either. Simply mentioning “My friend, Joe told me that you know a lot about XYZ, Inc.” can pique the interest of the person you’re trying to engage, especially if they know Joe and believe him to be a credible reference.
Ask a question
If you’re walking down the street and a man asks you what time it is, you’re more likely to respond to him, right? The same goes for starting a conversation. Instead of launching into the meat of the conversation, hook your target in with an open-ended question. Try something like, “I’m really interested in XYZ, Inc., what do you think is going to happen in the next few months?”
Flattery will get you nowhere, but a genuine compliment…
Everyone likes a solid (and genuine) compliment from time to time. Get your target’s attention by bringing up an article they wrote, or something you admire about their work or their career. After all, we all want to help the people that appreciate us.
This is a time-tested strategy for PR folks when they want to get the right kind of attention: use the news.
If you’re in HR and the unemployment rate just came out, why not use that as leverage to hook your target? Picking something current in general can also speak volumes about you as a potential job candidate.
If you’ve “read” your target and have decided that the previous four ice breakers simply won’t do it, try being straight about what you want. If you are interested in interviewing (informational or job), networking, or asking for advice, simply do it!
People are busy and don’t want to wade through a ton of pointless information to get to what you want. No matter which icebreaker you choose, make sure it’s short and sweet.
Tony Morrison is the Vice President of Business Development at Cachinko, a unique professional community where social networking and job opportunities come together. His roles include sales, marketing, and business development. He is passionate about building B2B and B2C client relationships and brings this passion to Cachinko where he focuses on helping job seekers to find their ideal job and employers to find, attract, and engage their next rock star candidates.
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