The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


April 2014
How To Network
By John Ghanotakis, Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan

Networking is an important part of your professional development. ACCJ events, industry conferences, and networking social events provide good opportunities for this.

One of the main reasons young professionals join the ACCJ is the quality networking opportunities available. However, many people dislike the idea of spending their free time in a room full of strangers.

It doesn’t take extreme introversion to dislike networking events. Some people are shy and may not know much about the ACCJ, or are just not social networking ninjas.

Below are some icebreakers and tips for networking events for those who might like to try something new, or who sometimes run out of ideas.


Pay a compliment
Complimenting someone on a necklace or pair of shoes is a great way to break the ice. For men, this may be a bit trickier, but there’s no reason to overlook a sharp tie or jacket.

Comment on the food or ask what they are drinking
People love food and drinks. If you are looking to strike up a conversation, you can always ask their thoughts on the food.

Bring up a big news event, especially if it has to do with their industry or the topic of the event
This shows you’re up-to-date on current affairs and gets the conversation going. Scan the news before the event begins to find some topics to speak about.

Mention that you are awkward at networking
People enjoy refreshing honesty and you could generate a few laughs with this comment.


Lose the elevator pitch

How many people remember your sales pitch anyway? Many people would rather have an engaging conversation that they will remember rather than clever terminology.

Good networking is about communication, enough so that people want to talk to you again. When you focus on this fact, it’s much easier to start a conversation and keep it going.

Ask questions
People love to talk about themselves, especially when they have someone who will listen attentively. To make a great impression and keep the conversation going, ask questions. You only have to know very little about a topic to ask smart questions.

Ask for advice
This can be a great way to start a conversation. You could ask which future ACCJ events they recommend attending, or for unrelated advice on common interests such as restaurant or movie suggestions.

These kinds of questions keep the conversation flowing naturally. Further, you leave the other person feeling good because you asked for their opinion.

To ask questions about things that most of us have dealt with previously is a great way to start a conversation. For example: “I have to find somewhere to go on vacation this year. Do you know any good places in Japan?”

Be brave enough to share about yourself

Most networking is forgettable because it’s so generic; no one shares much and people stay away from controversy.

Although argumentative posturing may be memorable, we suggest staying away from this and rather just share your opinion.

Be brave enough to be real with others to present yourself as a well-rounded and interesting person.


John Ghanotakis (chair), Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan (vice chairs) are members of the ACCJ Young Professionals Group Subcommittee.