Networking can be a downright scary experience for many. When you’re new to the professional world, knowing how to approach a stranger at an event is often uncharted territory. Do you crack a joke? Are you supposed to be serious? This isn’t the kind of stuff you’re taught at school. But if you end up becoming a bundle of nerves at your next event, it’s important to resist staying in your comfort zone by keeping to yourself the entire night. After all, a new connection could mean an internship or even a job. That said, you definitely don’t want to miss out on an opportunity just because you were too shy to say hello. Instead, take a deep breath and go for it. We’re here to tell you that everything will be okay. Try out some of these simple (but effective) conversation starters to help you break the ice and work the room like the pro you are.
- “How’s your day going so far?” If you’re struggling to think of something to say, stick to the basics. You can’t go wrong with a friendly greeting.
- “Where are you from?” Almost everyone likes to talk about themselves, so get them chatting about where they grew up and how they ended up where they are.
- “What field are you in?” Left hanging after introducing yourself? This is a great way to start the conversation, and will probably give you the opportunity to think of some other questions to ask as well.
- “I love your shoes!” Everyone loves to be flattered, and a thoughtful compliment will help ease any tension.
- “How did you hear about this event?” Maybe they follow the same social media account as you or perhaps you have a mutual friend in the industry. Either way, this is a chance for you to find a common connection.
- “Am I the only person who doesn’t know anyone else here?” Being the only person who doesn’t know anyone can be intimidating at times, but it can give you the opportunity to bond with someone else who might be feeling out of place.
- “What are your favorite restaurants around here?” Who doesn’t like talking about food? People always get excited to share their local favorites, and it can give you something to talk about if you reach out to that new connection again later on.
- “Can you believe the traffic on the way here?” We all like complaining about our commute, so bring up the topic that literally everyone has in common.
- “Can you believe it’s only Wednesday?” Got those hump-day feels? It’s a safe bet other people do too, so this will give you a way to break the ice and start talking about what it is you do during the week.
- “Don’t you know [your friend’s name here]?” If you do share a connection, you’ll immediately have something to chat about. And if you don’t, you’ll already have broken the ice, leaving you room to ask them why you recognized them and what they do.
- “Did you see the news today?” It’s typically best to avoid political topics, but sharing something crazy or heartwarming you recently heard about is a good way to get the conversation flowing.
What are your go-to conversation starters? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by @maddyhaller.