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How to Be More Creative When Breaking the Ice

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 14/03/2016 Kelly Marie Fairchild

It's almost certain that business professionals everywhere can agree, usually we all try to "break the ice" upon meeting or even catching up after a long time. It's just what we do. We feel the need to create that fluff before diving into the more serious and important reasons why we are often meeting in the first place. The term originates all the way back to the 17th-century when used by poet, Samuel Butler. The line reads: "To give himself a first audience, After he had a while look'd wise, At last broken silence, and the ice." Knowing this, it is undoubtably so that people around the world have been trying to master the art of ice breaking for quite some time.
Last week while attending a meeting, I was engaged about the weather for the umpteenth time and I began thinking about the subject. We all know we need to break the ice, but what else can we discuss without being too intrusive? The weather, of course, is usually our first go to, which isn't bad, but we can do better.
The first key is to read your audience. If it's the first time you are meeting, you should try to gather as much information you can about your who you are meeting with. Check their LinkedIn to read up on their interests, college, content and anything else you can compile. If you have met with them before, you should bring up a topic that you've previously discussed such as their kids, the city the live in, business, etc. If you have met with them prior, there is a section in LinkedIn under each contact for relationship notes. This can serve as your virtual Rolodex.
The news is always an easy topic to bring up. Maybe the other person had not see something that happened on the news, or something huge had just happened that you know you can discuss. Try to avoid politics and anything else that you normally wouldn't bring up in an office setting.
If you are meeting with a company, organization or even small business, you should be able to do some research online prior to meeting and use this as a topic to bring up. Perhaps they were just recapitalized or opened up additional offices. These are both viable options.
The day of the week that you meet can also play into what you use to break the ice. Are you meeting on a Monday or a Friday? You can bring up the weekend and inquire about plans. Get them talking to find out more information about them and to build rapport.
Where are you meeting? Are you in your city or a city different from your own? Bring up the local sports team or college.
Industry events can be helpful as well. Is there a big trade show or conference coming up that you'll both be attending? Maybe you know others in the industry that they may know or you can tell them where you'll be speaking or showcasing your product or service.
Although, I don't think we'll ever get around the fact that people use the weather as an ice breaker, maybe, just maybe, we'll find that people start to become more creative in their approach.

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