Maybe you are starting a new job or maybe you are looking for a promotion in your existing job, we all agree it is not always an easy task to start or to keep a conversation at work.
Here some very helpful tips to start a work conversation with the CEO, with a newbie or the very intimidating colleague who’s been there forever.
So read on for advice on how to talk your way through any situation you’re likely to encounter along your career path, whether that’s in your own office, at a networking event, or at your company’s happy hour.
1. With the founder or CEO
You: “Hi! How’s your week going?”
CEO: “Not bad. Busy! How about yours?”
You: “It’s going well. I’m excited to be working on [whatever project feels most significant to you].”
- In this scenario, you give the leader a chance to share information with you.
- Be prepared with an astute but straightforward answer.
- Mention an item you’re working on and for what department, if there’s any question as to your role at the company.
- If you think he doesn’t know your name, now’s the time to extend your hand and say, “I’m not certain we’ve formally met. I’m [Your Name].”
2. With the newbie
You: “Hi. You started [this week, last Friday], right? My name is [Your Name] and I’m a part of the [X] team. Are you starting to feel settled?
Newbie: “Good, thanks. There’s a lot to learn, but I’m really enjoying it. How long have you been here?”
You: “I started in [whenever you started], and I can’t believe [insert something memorable here about your time at the company].”
- Your goal is to get the conversation rolling and put the new person at ease.
- Remember, it’s not easy being the new kid on the block. If you value your company and your role, you should also make a point to appreciate its growth and culture.
3. With the intimidating colleague who’s been there forever
You: “Hey, I’m looking for recommendations for places to go for a networking lunch this week. I haven’t gotten to know the neighborhood well, but I thought, as someone who seems to know the ins and outs around here, you might have some suggestions.”
Colleague: “What kind of place are you looking for?”
- Appealing to her sense of expertise is a smart point of entry. It’s likely that she’s a perfectly nice person, and your assumptions were incorrect — but there’s only one way to find out, and that’s bravely beginning the exchange.
4. With an event organizer
You: “This space is great. Thanks so much for organizing it. Do you plan things like this often?”
Organizer: “You know, I do because in my office…”
You’ve heard that most people like to talk about themselves, right? Trust in the truth of that and use it to your advantage. This is an especially handy tip if you have no idea what to say to someone you’ve just met or if you’re worried that you don’t have anything interesting to contribute and are grasping for language.
5. With a VIP
You: “Hi. My name is [Your Name]. I know you’ve probably got to make the rounds, but I didn’t want to regret not coming over and introducing myself — and letting you know that your app is genius.”
You might not get much more than a thank you out of the very important person, and if that’s the case, don’t take it personally.
A compliment will often ignite a discussion, and if you truly do have something kind to say about the person’s company, program, or product, why not open with that and see where it goes.
6. With the person from the department, you know nothing about
You: “How’s your week going? Busy with projects?”
Person: “Busier than usual because we’ve got [names major initiative the team is focused on].”
You: “Oh, interesting. I hadn’t thought how that might affect your team. What are you working on specifically?”
- By being vague in your opening, you allow for the fact that you don’t know exactly what the person does (don’t worry, he probably doesn’t know too much about your day-to-day either), but you, nonetheless, make an effort to engage him in a conversation about his work and his team and department.
7. With the intern
You: “How was your weekend? Are you watching or reading anything really great at the moment?”
Intern: “It was great. Actually, I’m totally hooked on both [Netflix series] and [NBC series]. Do you watch either of them?”
You: “I’ve heard great things about [Netflix series], but I haven’t had a chance to start it yet. I’m with you on [NBC series]. I love the actor who plays the dad.”
- Once you start a dialogue about entertainment — TV, books, movies — it’s unlikely that you’ll struggle with finding more to discuss.
Conclusion: It’s nearly impossible to know how the person on the receiving end of the conversation you start is going to respond. Be yourself, be sincere, and accept that starting and carrying on amiable conversations takes a certain amount of effort for most people.
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