It's happened to you at least once in your business lifetime. You're at the company picnic, at a networking event, or at your industry's national convention surrounded by people you don't know. All around you there are streams of conversation that sound inviting. Yet, you're tongue-tied and can't seem to speak. Sound familiar?

Breaking the ice and entering into a conversation can seem daunting or intimidating. This is especially true if you're shy or an introvert. Here are a few ways to break the ice at networking events, company meetings, or at that big industry trade show.

1. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Don't ask any question. Ask an open-ended question that allows the person to open up and talk about themselves. The keys are to pick up any common interests to extend the conversation and learn more about that person. This helps with relationship-building.

2. Bring A Friend
I use this one quite often. When in doubt about the networking event, I bring someone along with me. More than likely, they know someone at the event and I can be introduced. It's always great to expand your circle of influence.

3.  Get An Introduction
If you see someone you would like to meet at the event, ask someone you know for an introduction. This allows you to be comfortable in the “circle” and ask questions. Having a mutual acquaintance gives you some credibility with the person you would like to meet.

Bonus Tip: Find the Right Opening At the Right Time
The key to finding the right opening is to listen around you. If you know you can solve a problem that someone has, don't be afraid to jump in and introduce yourself. The key is to jumping in at the right time (just like jump rope).

Do you have any ideas on how to break the ice? Please post and share!

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