Network. Network. Network.

One of the most intimidating things when making an industry change is connecting with people that aren’t from the same background as you.

Honestly, being around college kids for four years and then corporate America, you forget how to make meaningful connections with someone that’s not exactly like you. Start building your network in another industry by connecting with people that have made the same switch!

I "Googled" finance to fashion and found so many people that were willing to tell me their stories. Here are some topics that you can use to break the ice no matter what industry you are trying to get into.

  • The Weather
    • The easiest thing to ask right after the "How are you" question is to go straight into commenting about the weather. "Wow, its a beautiful day outside", or "It was snowing today, It's April!" These are great conversation transition points, especially during an interview.  
  • Your Commute
    • In the city, commuting is VERY common. Whether you take the LIRR, NJTransit, Port Authority Bus, PATH or MTA, the joys and frustrations of public transportation is something everyone can relate to. 
  • Lunch Spots
    • Food does bring everyone together. For me, talking about lunch spots not only makes the conversation interesting but you learn something valuable  along the way. No matter who you are, lunch is one of the most important times of a working day. Find a good deal? Share it... everyone is trying to find a better alternative to a $14 salad.
  • Food at the Event
    • You might think this one is a little bit weird but here is a little story.
      • Once, I went to a networking event by myself and could feel the whole room staring at me as I tried to find someone to talk to. Ten minutes later, I was still awkwardly standing by the refreshments hoping the event would start at any minute. As I was waited, there was another group close by talking about the best type of cheese that they were serving. Fast forward five minutes and I started bonding with them over our mutual dislike for blue cheese. This led to a conversation about my role, and ultimately exchanging contact information.  
  • TV Shows
    • If you are into Reality TV like me, the first advice I would give you is to start watching a show everyone is talking about. Maybe something like Game of Thrones or Stranger Things. Although I love E! Network , knowing someone that enjoys it as well is RARE. This will help you connect more. 
  • Sports
    • I realized early on that I needed to educate myself on topics other people were interested in. I needed to keep up the conversation. One of the things I started (kind of pushed into from my friends ) was joining a Fantasy Basketball league and creating my own March Madness bracket. You create your own team and decide which players you want and when they play. Then you compete against other teams. This literally took maybe 3 minutes of my day and I was able to learn enough about players, teams, and the competition to add value to a conversation. 
  • Family
    • Sophomore year of college, I was helping hold an event which taught students about the technology, engineering, and business. I asked the main speaker, "What are some ways to connect with others?" His main answer was "family, it is a common aspect of life that brings us together". Obviously don't bring this up right away, but gauge how the conversation is going (maybe someone has a child going to the same school that you went to). 
  • The News
    • I try to stay away from bringing up the news as the first topic to talk about. Mostly because I want to make sure I am completely knowledgeable about the topic. However, if this does come up, there are ways to make sure you are prepared with talking points. Every morning, I read the Metro newspaper, TheSkimm, and Morning Brew. They all give me concise summaries of what is happening in the world. I have also found that  I end up re-reading about the same topic. Even though this may seem repetitive, it really helps me gain a better understanding of the full issue. Whatever you do, do not bring up politics or religion. Those are topics you should avoid.

Have any "ice-breakers" that you commonly use? Comment below and share. 

Puja PatelComment