How to Make the Initial Conversation: Happy Hour with NYC Colleagues Part One

 

make conversation in officeYou know how important it is to get introduced to visiting colleagues from a different city: they bring a whole new network of contacts within and outside your organization; they can help you land a job transfer; or they could become your long-distance dates :) . But when you see those unfamiliar faces having no business to do

with you, you face a very practical question, “How do I meet them?”

Making conversation with strangers can be out of your comfort zone. When my NYC colleagues came to visit our office for the first time, I was curious and excited. I want to get introduced and, more importantly, make good conversation with them so that they would remember me. But I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by their professional outlook and work style. From what I heard, people working in the prime financial district in NYC are required to wear business suites just to get into the building. The close proximity and interaction with those wall street traders, investment bankers, and business consultants cultivate people to work very hard and maintain professional work demeanor in the office. Whereas in the west coast, where there isn’t a strong finance culture, people rather focus on getting the work done than paying too much attention to the business attire. The sharp contrast in work style seems foreign and a little intimidating, but I was equally motivated to meet them.

In a busy working office, you’d wonder, “how do I get a chance to make conversation when I don’t even know how to get introduced?”  In their short stay at your office, they will be introduced to many, many people. If you don’t take the initiative to stand out, you will be just a face with a business title in their memory or less than that sometimes. What you need to do is good timing; that’s when people want to meet new people, socialize, and make conversation.

There are 3 scenarios I feel comfortable with to get introduced an make conversation:

Scenario 1: You walk to the coffee machine and see some of them taking a break.
What you need to do: Go up to them, say “hi”, introduce yourself briefly, and then get the conversation going.
Why? This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself. When people are relaxed, they become more sociable and want to make conversation. Also, there is less competition of attention from other coworkers.

Scenario 2: There is a group conversation going on between  some of your coworkers and those visiting colleagues.
What you need to do: Join the group, introduce yourself or get introduced, contribute to the conversation.
Why? The group scenario is natural and casual. It puts less pressure on you to make good conversation topics. You can just go with the flow.

Scenario 3: You missed or can’t find any good introduction opportunity.
What you need to do: Ask a coworker who knows the visiting colleagues to introduce you. After the business usual intro by your coworker, you need to be prepared to take over the conversation.
Why? This method starts out formal. It may put some pressure on you because you need to maneuver the conversation from all business to business casual.

The goal of making conversation with visiting colleagues is to get to know people on a personal level. You can talk about the flight, the difference in weather, and professional backgrounds.

In the conversation, You should always ask about Happy Hour and try to be the first person to ask. Happy hour is a great way to meet and get to introduced to people. A special trait about visiting colleagues is that they want to explore and experience your city. This is especially true about NY colleagues. They are used to eat out for dinner and are surrounded by different venues and activities. They will be glad to accept your happy hour invitation. Who is the better person to throw a happy hour event and be their tour guide? It’s You. You’ll have plenty of chance to make conversation and have a lot of fun.

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June 5, 2011
By Shunie

Part Two: Restaurant Happy Hour San Francisco
Part Three: Late Night Happy Hour San Francisco

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