Example: "These parties are always so awkward, aren't they? Everybody's supposed to network - no pressure!" When circumstances aren't ideal, acknowledging a shared experience can soften the edge and get a conversation going. Be careful using this technique. Do your best to remain neutral.
Example: "That was a productive meeting! I feel like we generated some solid ideas." The opposite of the "we're in this together" conversation starter is noticing something pleasant. A positive approach can get a conversation off to the right start. We tend to like upbeat people who draw our attention to good things.
Example: "I really like your hair. The cut suits you." Giving someone a compliment can liven their day and boost their confidence. You can pick something about the person you like and mention why you like it. There are several follow-up questions you can ask to keep the conversation going, such as where they go to get their hair cut or how they chose the style.
Example: "How long have you been in the marketing business?" This one's easiest if you know you're at a function where everyone's likely to have a similar background. When you bring up what you have in common, you make an instant connection that will lead to more things to talk about.