Let me paint a picture for you.
You just moved to the city of your dreams. It’s big, vibrant and full of possibility. The weather is amazing. The food is SO good. You’re living the dream except one thing keeps bothering you: your Friday nights suck.
You spend them alone and bored out of your mind. You WANT to go out, but you don’t even know where to start.
This was my exact situation a few years ago.
I’d just moved to New York City and had ZERO friends. After too many boring Friday nights, I finally learned how to make new friends and meet more people.
Today, I want to share what I learned in those first couple years in a new city.
Even if you aren’t new to a city — maybe you’re starting a new job or a new semester at school — these techniques still apply to you.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- 3 sure-fire ways to break the ice and get an authentic conversation started with anybody
- Why small talk is not BS and how it can help you have better more meaningful conversations
- A simple but effective game to get over the nervousness of meeting new people
Use these 3 tips to start an authentic conversation with anybody
Picture this: You are at the bar with your friend. He instantly starts chatting up a girl and leaves you standing there awkwardly, drink in hand. You feel like a weirdo not talking to anyone, so you habitually take out your phone and check Facebook.
I used to be that person. I would go to a party and instantly feel awkward and shy. Instead of meeting people, I’d walk past everyone, take out my phone and check my email. I wanted to meet people, but I had NO idea where to even start.
That is why I started studying social skills. I watched people who were good at meeting people. I studied the exact words they used and the questions they asked. I watched their faces and their body language… I wanted to know what they did so I could train myself to do the same.
After a while, I noticed there were 3 very simple conversation starters that the most charismatic and confident people always have in their arsenal. Here are the 3 techniques and how you can use them.
1.“Hi, I’m Ramit…”
This first technique seems so obvious that it often gets over-looked, but the reason it works is that once you introduce yourself, most people will just automatically introduce themselves as well. Most people won’t leave you hanging – and if they do, you probably don’t want to continue chatting with them anyway.
2.“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Ramit, what brought you here?”
This question is a little more leading, and it works best at an event like a conference. Regardless of their answer, it can lead to a comment from you or another related question.
- “Hi nice to meet you, I’m Ramit, what brought you to this conference?”
- “Well, I work for so and so and really am interested in ______ (some sort of topic)”
Now you have something to work with. Add why you are at the conference or continue talking about what the other person said they were interested in.
See how just one question out of the gate can start a full and engaging conversation?
- “How do you know Jon?” (birthday host, organizer, whatever)
This last question is my favorite. I usually will start with “Hi I’m Ramit” and then ask them how they know the host. Asking something like this is effective because the answer you get is always a bit more intimate or interesting than any of the other questions.
For example the person you are chatting with could say…
“Oh, Jon is my partner…”
“Jon is my boss.”
“I have no idea who Jon is, actually I was just walking by and stumbled into this event. I don’t know anyone here…”
Usually, they will then ask you how you know the host, or you could comment on their answer or ask another question. Regardless, this question evokes a certain familiarity or friendly tone that works every time.
Key takeaway – Starting an authentic conversation is simpler than you think. These 3 icebreakers are easy to remember and are foolproof when used in application.
How to keep any conversation flowing
Ok, now that you know how to start a conversation, here’s how you can keep a conversation going by making small talk.
You might think small talk is a bunch of BS, but it’s the KEY to all good conversations.
Have you ever been in a situation where you meet someone, and it’s brutally awkward making small talk? Either you are stumbling over your words, or they are just uncomfortable talking to you. Whatever the problem is, the conversation sucks, and both of you want to leave.
I want to show you how to completely avoid awkward situations like this.
In the clip below, I discuss the benefits of small talk and give you a couple of tactics to help you strike up a conversation that doesn’t make you want to poke your eyes out.
Key takeaway: Small talk is key to keeping a conversation going. We may think that it’s a waste of time, and we’d rather just get to the point of the conversation, but in reality we are comforted by a long set of rituals. Like, “How are you, my name is Ramit,” etc.
In other words, play the game. Get good at small talk and you will see your conversations improve drastically.
Use this game to push past anxiety and make meeting people FUN
Now that I’ve given you exact scripts to use when you first meet someone, it’s time to put those scripts to the test. Enter the 60-Seconds Game.
The reason this game works is that it doesn’t give you a chance to get anxious or nervous. It actually forces you to quickly get out there and simply start talking to someone.
Here are the rules: Within 60 seconds of walking into an event, a coffee shop, or anywhere else you choose, go up to someone and introduce yourself. Use the scripts from above to get you started.
The ONLY rule is that you must do it within 60 seconds, before your anxiety can get the best of you.
Key takeaway – The benefits of this game are twofold:
- Because it’s a game, you almost trick yourself into doing it. This short circuits all the negative self-talk/doubts.
- Because you have to do it within 60 seconds, there is no time to get nervous and back out. If you practice this game enough times, you eventually train yourself to be totally comfortable talking to new people all the time.
Build your confidence with these 3 rejection-proof scripts
So far we have covered a couple ways to start a conversation. We also talked about how to think about small talk and ways to master it.
Now, it’s time to continue building your confidence so you can meet more people.
To do that, I want to give you 3 rejection-proof scripts for talking to people. If you try them out, every conversation you have is virtually guaranteed to go smoothly.