Exactly What to Say When You Walk Up To A Stranger at an Event


Within my career to date, it was the bravest move I’d ever made. Or maybe just the scariest.

Part of me couldn’t believe I was about to say this – to a TOTAL stranger. Someone I’d never spoken to before.

And at one of these events!

The kind I knew I should be at, but was terrified of. I’d only gone because my buddy Steve had said he would chum me. Then he got held up at work, but I hadn’t discovered this until I was outside the door. And I figured…well, I’m here. And I really need to meet some of these people.

After what felt like HOURS (but was more likely five minutes), I made the decision to do it. I spotted my target… walked up. And SAID IT.

How did it go?

Fine. Of course it did.

Where was I?

At a Radio Academy Mixer Event in London (the city I’d just moved to, hoping to get a job on air at my dream radio station…and then, when I realised everyone I knew wanted the same thing I did, at any radio station that would have me).


And these brave words?

“Hi. I’m Marsha.
What’s your name?”

Earth shattering, right?


When you’re somewhere that you are expected to try and meet new-to-you people – like a networking event, conference or an industry workshop –

you don’t need a fancy opening line.

It’s like the difference between being in a bar and speed-dating. When you’re in a bar, that’s when all but the most (Adam-like) UBER-confident of people need that ice-breaker, that pretendy reason or chat-up line. But if you’re speed-dating, you don’t need to “accidentally” spill a bit of your drink on the person, because the meeting of people is
expected. You don’t waste any of your precious minutes on a, “Hey…have we met before – you look familiar…”, because it’s ok to dive right in and introduce yourself.

love note

You WILL need a good follow up question (might I suggest THIS one).

You WILL need to know it’s safe to approach (HERE’s how to gauge that).

But the opener? Can be as simple as a quick introduction.

If that still sounds VERY scary, I’d suggest softening the blow with a well-researched question – more on that HERE). But get the “My name’s [name], what’s yours?” in as soon as you can after that. That way, at very least, you’ll have enough to be able to send a “Nice to meet you” email in (and, if you’re paying attention, you’ll know that these are the FOUNDATION of amazing networking – more on that, HERE).


So next time you’re at a conference, a networking event (or even that speed-dating night), don’t forget that…

“Hi, I’m [my name]. What’s your name?”

…is an absolutely acceptable way to start a chat.


What do you say when you walk
up to a stranger?
It’s as simple as that Eminem song

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Thanks so much for hanging out. If you know anyone who’s about to go to an event and could use this easy advice, you can share this blog with them using one of the round buttons below. I’d also love to know what you think of all this, in the comments below.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha



PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Photo credits: Freddie Peña, a_marga and Editor B, all via Compfight cc


  • Andrea

    Reply Reply September 24, 2014

    You know, this is ironic because, back in the day, this was my go-to opener when I wanted to approach a hot hot hottie in a bar or club or anywhere really. And it ALWAYS worked!

    But somehow, now that I’m not approaching random people at bars, I’ve forgotten what an easy ice breaker this is! Thanks for the reminder, Marsha!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply September 24, 2014

      Andrea!! zomfg, i LOVE THIS!! Usually people take what works with networking and apply it to dating, i LOVE that you’re doing it the other way around!

  • Romeo Crow

    Reply Reply December 9, 2014

    Hey Marsha! Great post, keeping it simple! I like it :)

    I’ve got a big event to go to tonight; this is JUST the advice I need!

    Hopefully it’ll lead to good things…


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