What we wouldn’t give to have a good old-fashioned coffee shop meet up right now. The smell of fresh ground coffee, the sound of milk being frothed, the intermittent yelling of someone’s name when their half-caff-oat-milk-vanilla-iced-latte hits the counter. But, even though a lot of us have spent that last few months inadvertently becoming home baristas to get our coffee fix, it doesn’t mean that our virtual coffee dates have to be any less fun! So today, we’ve got tips to help you get energetic conversations started and keep them going—with potential clients and professional contacts alike. Read on for our favorite coffee conversation starters.
How to start conversations when you are networking
If you couldn’t tell, we really miss meeting up for a cup of coffee to chat with friends and connect with new contacts— it’s fun, easy to get the conversation going, and is always something to look forward to. But, as we put more and more digital coffee dates on the calendar, we’ve learned a thing or two about virtual networking and how to get an engaging conversation started. So, next time you find yourself meeting someone over Zoom (your best version of a half-caff-oat-milk-vanilla-iced-latte in hand), use these tips to make a good first impression and ensure your coffee talk is memorable.
- Since most networking events are scheduled well in advance, be sure to spend some time looking at your coffee date’s websites and social media accounts ahead of time
- Focus in on their recent posts and their most popular work and try to find details to start the conversation in a way that’s relevant to them
Want a tried and true conversation starter? Ask a question! Whether you are meeting someone new or don’t have much background on them, Los Angeles based wedding planner and WeddingPro Educator Jason Rhee of Rheefined Company has some witty ways to help you start conversations during virtual coffee dates or networking events:
- The lighting in your space is amazing! Are you using a ring light?
- Hi, do you know where the bar is? Just kidding, all my cocktails come in a can nowadays—how about yours?
- I’ve totally stalked you online and am obsessed with your feed. Where do you get all of your inspiration?
- I love your virtual background! Where did you get it?
- Mac or PC? I promise I won’t judge.
How to start conversations with clients
Making a strong first impression is always important, but it is especially so when you are meeting with a potential client! And, while you might be used to meeting with potential or newly booked clients in person (and inevitably talking about what the traffic was like to get there), kicking off a first meeting in a virtual format requires a different set of tools since handshakes and hugs are off limits. So, when you are starting a conversation with a potential client and want to give them a warm welcome, keep these things in mind to make sure you are getting started on the right foot.
- Think about adding a question to your intake form that gives you insight into their personality so you have something to start the conversation off of. Here are some suggestions:
- What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
- How do you recharge?
- What’s your favorite vacation spot?
- What TV show are you currently binge-watching?
- What’s your favorite Instagram account to follow?
- If their social media accounts aren’t private, spend a little bit of time “getting to know them” through what they post and then open the conversation with something fun or exciting they recently did
- In general, it is a good idea to start a conversation with a question about them. In addition to showing your interest, it helps establish yourself as someone who is not there to only talk about themselves
Katie Stringer, a wedding planner in the San Juan Islands near Seattle, also shared her thoughts on how she approaches conversations with potential clients:
Planning destination weddings on a PNW island typically results in a lot of virtual meetings—even pre-COVID! When meeting with new clients, I always like to ask them how they met and how they got engaged. It’s also really fun to ask them to describe their partner in 2 or 3 sentences so I can not only get a feel for each partner but hear how they talk about each other. Another topic that always warms up new clients is when I ask them to tell me their best and worst experiences as a wedding attendee in the past. Couples can often feel anxious about not knowing where to start or what they want so asking them about past experiences gives them a way to start thinking about weddings without feeling overwhelmed about decisions for their own event and it helps me break the ice!
Feeling ready to start conversations and want to make sure you are networking over the internet like the pro you are? Check out these great tips to make sure that you look great on camera, are engaging, and know the proper online meeting etiquette.
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