5 Top Conversation Starters for Networking

What to say when networking

Looking for conversation starters
for networking?

Some people would rather stick a skewer in their left eye than enter a room full of strangers. I’m not quite that bad, but I am a little introverted. Most people who know or have met me wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true. If you’re anything like me do what I do:  arrive at networking events early before the crowd begins to assemble. Trust me, it’s more manageable watching a “room” grow [gradually] than walking into it with a hundred (or more) people. I’ll share some conversation starters for networking in a bit.

Either way, networking is an unavoidable “must”. You never know what a friendly stranger has to offer your business or organization. Similarly, I guarantee you someone at the networking event needs to know about your services or product. Count on it.

This goes without saying, but be sure to look the part – dress professionally. I really don’t feel I should have to explain that any further.

Okay. I’ve covered some basics: you look great, you have a strategy to arrive early, now how do you break the ice with all those people once you get there?

Here are 5 great questions  and conversations starters to ask a person at a networking event:

1. “What is your history with_____________________?”

This question leverages what you already have in common – you’re at the same event! Ask how they learned about the person/company hosting it.

This is also a great time to share what you hope to accomplish by being there. You may get a lead or, at the very least, make a new friend or contact!

2.What do you do?”

Duh, right? This is a “tried and true” and always breaks the ice with strangers. People love talking about themselves and what they do for a living. If they are happy or content, you can say something like:

“Oh wow! That sounds like so much fun! Tell me more about that.”

If they hate their job, this is an opportunity to say:

“Hmm. I understand that. Have you been putting any “feelers” out?”

Either way, you can easily get a conversation going. You may also be able to connect them with a new job lead…or find one for yourself. Either way, it’s one of the best conversation starters for networking.

3.“Your name is pretty/interesting/fascinating. Is it a family name? What’s the story?”

This one is a guaranteed smile starter. However, if their name is Bob, you’re in trouble. 🙂 You’ll have to think of something else.

4. “Honestly, I hate attending events like this, but I know it’s necessary for my job as a _______”.

More than likely, you’ll find someone who agrees with you and can relate one hundred percent. Even the most confident professionals have the “teensiest” bit of angst about networking events.

I think it revives memories of being on the playground as a kid with no one to play with. Everyone has felt that way…well, almost everyone.

5. “Hey, I know this sounds crazy, but I have a _________ JUST like that”. Take a moment to chill and scan the room. Surely, you can find something in common with someone there. It could even be as nominal as the same suit jacket (works better for women than men). Wait for the chuckle and introduce yourself.

Networking conversations is not all I talk about as a Kansas City consultant…

Leveraging the 4 personality styles to help you when working with different personalities in the workplace.  I also discuss often how business personalities play a role in how you approach work and manage work personalities in general. I also answer the question” “how does personality influence communication at work?” Your temperament plays a role in everything. I love talking about it and exploring exactly how!

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I'm a Missouri training consultant specializing in teambuilidng and overall personal effectiveness.

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