If you’re not naturally extroverted, the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and trying to start a conversation may give you the willies. Take it from a raving extrovert, even we sometimes have a hard time connecting with people we don’t know. Yet making connections is critical to building business or finding a new job.

Here are three little things you can do to introduce yourself to a total stranger and get a conversation going:

  1. Practice a quick introduction for yourself. Have 10-15 words that will roll off your tongue in a pinch, something that will explain who you are or what your company does. It doesn’t have to be scintillating; it just has to open the door for a conversation.
  2. Pick up first names quickly and use them when you start a conversation. Nothing gets someone’s attention like using their name. Repeat their name when you’re speaking with them. It will help you remember them later and it will make you sound friendlier.
  3. It may sound intimidating, but look for small groups that are talking. There’s probably a conversation underway you can easily join, and you’ll be meeting several people at once.

There you go–three things you can do to get the conversation going. In my next blog post, I’m going to talk about something many of us don’t do well: follow up after the event.