Breaking the ice!
While everyone is capable of making small talk, it can be difficult to establish a real connection with someone you’ve just met. But making that connection is the first step in building friendships.
For Charlene Nadalin, Founder, President and CEO of Amintro, the social app designed exclusively for those 50 plus looking to expand their social circles, it is no surprise that meeting new people comes naturally. And as someone who has built and easily maintains a large network of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, we thought she was the perfect person to get some tips on breaking the ice in new social settings.
“The first, and probably most important, aspect of meeting new people is to show a genuine interest in them. This includes things like smiling, being engaged in the conversation, listening more than talking, and getting that person’s name and getting it right,” says Charlene.
And if it is a unique or unusual name, Charlene stresses there is no problem in asking the individual to repeat it or spell it out so that you do get it straight. After all, there is nothing worse than getting a name only to forget it half an hour later.
After initial introductions, you want to keep the conversation going. This is when you want to avoid standard rhetoric such as commenting on the weather and instead ask open-ended questions.
“When you first meet someone, let’s say at a function, say ‘Hello how are you, are you enjoying the day? Are you enjoying the event? Have you been to an event like this before?’ Use your environment or the activity as your first topic,” says Charlene.
And if you are first connecting with a person online, say through a site like Amintro, Charlene offers the following advice.
“Give some information about yourself to open up the dialogue and tie that into your questions. For example, if you see on a person’s profile that their favourite country is Italy, use that as an opener. You could say ‘I noticed you’re a fan of Italy, have you been there before? I’d love to go myself one day’. This way you are tying yourself and the other person into the topic.”
On our social platform, Amintronian (member) profiles serve as a conversation starter. Use this information! As Charlene points out, “People are sharing what they want others to see, it is what makes them unique and they expect you to have already read their background if you are getting in touch. Just remember that in order to get information, you have to give information.”
Creating a bridge in the conversation – letting the person know why you are asking a question or tying the question to a point about yourself – allows the conversation to flow without anyone feeling like they are part of an inquisition. Breaking down barriers with commonalities brings people closer together and allows the conversation to take off in all different directions.
While getting to know others may be harder for those that are shy, socialization is necessary to be happy and healthy. We understand that you may not want to be the first person to engage in conversation or take that first step, and for this hesitation, Charlene has a great response, “No one wants to be the first on the dance floor, but everyone wants to be on the dance floor”.
So go ahead, be inquisitive. You are not being intrusive, especially in a setting such as Amintro where you are among a circle of peers that all want to meet new people. Don’t be shy. You may be an individual and you may be new but you are part of a community that wants to make new friends and try new things.
It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, at the end of the day we are all better off after engaging in social settings. You will be glad that you made the effort, got out of your comfort zone, and now have numerous new friendships because of it.
By Christine Tompa