I am usually pretty good at striking up a conversation with someone, but this was a beast of a situation. I was sitting at a table of ten people, and the two people to my left and to my right were in conversation that didn’t include me. The folks to my left were engaged with a group, probably four or five all chatting together. But it was the person on my right who really offered the challenge. He had turned his chair on an angle so that his back was to me and he was heads down in conversation with the person on his right.
As an observer on networking I thought, “how am I going to break into this conversation”. Dear reader, I know that you have probably experienced this as well, and I did imagine a situation where any one of us could be left to spend whole lunchtime event trapped in the Cone of Silence. So, I thought I would try the following, and see if it would work.
I lightly tapped Mr. X’s shoulder. He turned around. With a friendly smile I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself before lunch.” You could see he was slightly embarrassed. I then introduced myself to him and the other person, apologized for interrupting them and then since they seemed relatively open I started chatting. After a minute or so I said, “If you want to continue your conversation, please do so. I just wanted to say hello.” They didn’t and now there were three of us in the conversation. It worked.
-Written by Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, business networking speakers and authors of Work The Pond! Shepa Learning Company