‘Small world’ is a commonly used phrase. Occasionally by chance/coincidence, your paths cross or as we say ‘you bump into sb’ at a trade fair/exhibition, industry conference, meeting, seminar and the like.
My seminar participants often ask/worry about such meet ups, what to say, how to react etc. More often though, you know/expect somebody to be there and you can prepare for it in advance.
Check out the following ice breaker phrases:
“Long time, no see!”
“Great to see you again!”
“I thought I might see / bump into you here!”
“I was wondering if I might see / bump into you here!”
“Well, who would have thought it, (you here) (be careful – more joking!)”
Then there’s the common general ‘how are you’ phrases?
“How are you keeping?”
“How have you been?”
“How long’s it been now (since the last time we met)?”
What’s more you can do your homework – be proactive, if you know so and so will be there, get ready with some questions/: Here are a few I would prepare if I knew I was going to meet myself.
“How’s the bairn (boy) i.e. your son / missus / the better half?”
“How’s Liverpool getting on?” better still, know how Liverpool is getting on by checking the results & league table so you don’t put your foot in it.
“What’s business like?” And always try to be positive and sensitive to the other, and WHATEVER you do, don’t launch into a 2 minute ‘O woe is me` rant.
by chance/coincidence (Zufall), to bump into sb (jdm zufällig begegnen), to put your foot in it (ins Fettnäpchen treten), “O woe is me” ( Wehe mir), rant (Wutrede)