Chatting with others is second nature. You do it all the time with your friends and acquaintances, and you probably even make small talk with strangers every now and then. When it comes to networking, though, there’s an added level of intimidation. Breaking the ice is often the most nervewracking part, so we rounded up some conversation starters for networking events that are effective and totally stress-free.
1. What brings you here today?
This one is classic and straight to the point. A question like this is a great segway into exchanging information on where you guys work and what your roles are. When in doubt, this question is always appropriate.
2. I was really impressed by [insert speaker’s name] earlier. What did you think?
A question that’s exclusive to the event you’re at is a great conversation starter. After all, it’s something you’re both guaranteed to relate about. This also gives you a chance to dive right into the professional topics that the whole event is centered around.
3. Have you made your way to the buffet yet?
A lighthearted question like this is a friendly and organic way to break the ice before you start talking business. You can even add a bit of humor to it by tacking on a joke like, “I know that’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?”
4. This city is beautiful. Are you familiar with the area?
Getting to know a little bit about the person you’re conversing with builds a level of trust and likability, which is essential for effective networking. Plus, starting off in a casual manner makes the whole interaction a whole lot less nervewracking! Use this question to find out where the person is from, what they like to do around town, and then find out what brings them to the event.
5. I love your _____. Where did you get it?
Compliments never fail! You may even use this line outside of networking events. It’s an effortless way to get a conversation going, professional setting or not.
6. Mind if I join you in this corner? It’s a bit loud out there.
While this question isn’t as open-ended as the rest, it’s a polite way to get yourself in front of someone new. Since you guys are now in the “quiet” corner, it’ll be easier keeping their attention as you guys continue chatting.
7. These events can get a bit overwhelming sometimes, don’t you think?
If you see someone wandering around solo or sticking to the comfort of a corner, why not open up a conversation with this relatable question? Networking events can be a total whirlwind at times, so it’s a breath of fresh air talking with someone who understands.
What are your go-to icebreakers when you’re networking? Share your best advice in the comments below!