17 Great Conversation Starters to Break the Ice at Networking Events


With fall on its approach, the countdown to September’s INBOUND 2019 occasion is in full-swing. Yearly, hundreds of entrepreneurs and their friends collect to be taught, encourage, and community. That final one — networking — will get a whole lot of us fairly excited. In spite of everything, it is how 85% of people say they’ve landed a job. And personally, if I am actually into an occasion and I am feeling tremendous energetic, I like to community. However I do not at all times really feel so peppy. Then what?

Typically, we’ve got to fall again on an arsenal of dialog starters. It helps to spark a dialogue, even when it is taking each ounce of willpower you haven’t to go dwelling, activate Netflix, and order sushi.

We have your again. Listed below are among the dialog starters that we have tried and have seen succeed. Bookmark them to your subsequent networking occasion.

Take heed to the audio model of this submit:

17 Nice Dialog Starters to Break the Ice at Networking Occasions

1. “Hello, I am ‘X.'”

It really works. Simply make sure you have got one thing to comply with your introduction, in order that you do not find yourself looking at one another in silence. And as you will see, that is the important thing to most dialog starters — be prepared with a follow-up. Saying “hello” is simply your strategy to get the ball rolling, so make sure you possibly can preserve the alternate going and take it to the subsequent degree.

(Observe: Use your first title, as an alternative of “X.”)

2. “Are you having points with the Wi-Fi?”

Excellent news: The reply is nearly at all times “sure.” Plus, I do not find out about you, however I believe all of us have battle tales of when the web stopped working for us on the worst time — these are at all times nice dialog starters.

3. “That [food or beverage] seems nice. The place did you discover it?”

This query can supply a couple of totally different solutions. The individual may simply let you know the place they acquired it, or they may go into an outline or a touch upon the standard. Undecided the place to go from there? Inform them about a spot the place you as soon as had the perfect model of no matter they’re consuming or snacking on. However body it as a query — “Have you ever ever been to Hawaii? I as soon as had the perfect fish tacos there.”

This method additionally works with impartial compliments, like telling somebody that you simply love their laptop computer bag or jacket. Most individuals take pleasure in receiving constructive suggestions, and can most likely comply with up with a narrative about the place or how they acquired it. (And if they do not comply with up, ask them about it — bear in mind, preserve the dialog going.)

4. “Have you learnt if there is a coat examine?”

I at all times wish to leverage the communal confusion that happens at each occasion. Once you first arrive, nobody actually is aware of what they’re doing. However anybody who does will soar on the likelihood to be “within the know.”

5. “I can not imagine how chilly/sizzling/stunning it’s right this moment.”

Speaking concerning the climate sounds so cliché, nevertheless it really works — particularly if individuals are visiting from out of city. Possibly somebody from sunny California, for instance, is touring to Boston for INBOUND this yr. After all, that will require you to ask the individual the place they’re from, first. However after getting a solution, you possibly can even make a joke about it — “Boy, I guess you are glad you left Los Angeles behind for a couple of days of chilly New England climate.”

6. “Are you right here with colleagues?”

If somebody you are talking with is on the occasion with a bunch of individuals, that may enable your circle to increase — should you’re proactive about it. You may tactfully categorical curiosity in assembly somebody’s co-worker by asking what the totally different roles are on that individual’s staff, and responding with one thing like, “, I’ve at all times needed to be taught extra about X. Would you thoughts introducing me to your colleague who works on that?”

But when that individual is flying solo, you possibly can generate some empathy as a fellow lone wolf. That does not imply you must cling to that individual the complete time, however a “me, too” is at all times good. Simply make sure to not depart it at that — comply with up with an thought of the place to fulfill a few of your fellow cohorts, like mentioning that there is purported to be a fantastic breakout session later.

7. “You guys appear like you are having essentially the most enjoyable over right here. Thoughts if I be part of this dialog?”

After all, you will most likely wish to say that to individuals who really appear like they’re having an excellent time. And actually, who’s going to say “no” to that? In the event that they do, likelihood is, you will wish to discover one other group to hang around with, anyway.

8. “Are you right here to see anybody particularly?”

Should you’re each occupied with assembly the identical folks or seeing the identical periods, this query will aid you set up that frequent floor. Whatever the reply, you will be taught extra about every others’ targets and causes for attending the occasion, which promotes an alternate of concepts and information. And that may create alternatives, even after the occasion is over — you by no means know when that individual may want your experience down the road, or vice-versa.

9. “Did you all come right here collectively, or did you meet right here?”

This query is a good one whenever you’ve joined a bunch of strangers. It additionally opens up the dialog to everybody within the group, as an alternative of limiting it to the folks sitting proper subsequent to you. And the extra folks chatting, the higher — it is one other alternative so that you can find out about everybody’s targets and alternate concepts.

10. “Nicely, whereas we’re right here, I would as nicely introduce myself.”

If the occasion is large enough, likelihood is that you will have to attend in line for one thing — a keynote, the restroom, or meals, to call a couple of. And, because the least affected person individual on the planet, I can attest to the effectiveness of utilizing that point to do one thing aside from specializing in how slowly the road is transferring. Put that power towards one thing productive, like assembly the folks round you.

11. “Did you hear X converse?”

Being on the identical convention, periods and audio system are assured frequent floor, so use that to your benefit. It is a fantastic place to begin that may go in a whole lot of totally different conversational instructions — did you see that individual converse at a distinct occasion? Did you learn their work? What did you consider the discuss?

12. “Have you ever ever been to X down the road? I’ve actually needed to test it out.”

This query is a good one whenever you’re attending an out-of-town occasion. If there is a restaurant there that you have heard good issues about, you possibly can ask locals and guests alike in the event that they wish to test it out, too.

And should you’re an area your self, and also you’re chatting with guests, you possibly can advocate that they see the place whereas they’re on the town. Point out that you have not been there shortly, or that you simply’d love to return. If there is a shared curiosity in going, you possibly can counsel heading over collectively or sharing a cab.

But when they don’t seem to be occupied with going to that specific venue, ask them if they’ll advocate the place to go, or if there’s one other place they needed to take a look at. You may counsel heading there collectively, too, however be sure you’re not being too pushy — generally, folks actually simply wish to take a break to be alone, so do not take it personally.

13. “Are you talking at this occasion?”

Make sure you have a fast follow-up if the reply is “no” — like asking if any of that individual’s colleagues are talking, or which periods they plan on attending. Questions like that may prime you to be taught extra about what the individual does, and the way you may be capable of be taught from one another.

But when the reply is sure — jackpot. That is a fantastic alternative to ask them what they’re talking about, and what made them so within the matter. And remember to point out you are wanting ahead to attending, and what you hope to be taught from it.

And if that individual already spoke, however you missed it — “Bummer,” you possibly can inform them. Simply remember to ask if there’s someplace you’ll watch it on-line, or when their subsequent talking engagement is.

14. “Is that this your first time at this occasion”

If the reply is “sure,” use that to make the individual really feel like an knowledgeable, with out overwhelming them. Ask them for insider tips about tips on how to take advantage of the occasion, what was totally different about it final yr, and what they’re hoping to do that yr. That may lay the groundwork for uncovering shared pursuits.

However first-timers can empathize with you, and you’ll even ask them among the identical questions, like what made them come to the occasion within the first place and the way they’re liking it to this point. You are still opening up the dialog to a possible “me, too” second, and may discover a possibility to take part in a session collectively.

15. “Did you perceive what the speaker meant when she stated, ‘X’?”

This query creates a fantastic alternative to begin chatting with among the individuals who have been sitting subsequent to you throughout a session, as an alternative of silently/awkwardly shuffling out when it is over. Should you legitimately did not perceive one thing, do not be embarrassed — it may need confused different folks, too. Brainstorming totally different interpretations of a chat can really be form of enjoyable — it offers you an opportunity to be inventive and probably share concepts with somebody who has a contemporary perspective.

And even when that individual did perceive what was complicated you, asking them to elucidate it’d accomplish a bit little bit of ego-stroking. However preserve the dialog going — particularly should you really wish to be taught extra about what that individual has to say.

16. “I am bored with speaking to my colleagues — I see them on a regular basis. What are you guys speaking about?”

This one is a derivative of a pickup line from comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast. His unique model was, “I am bored with speaking to my pals, what are you guys speaking about?”

It is a line that is efficient in a lot of situations, as a result of it is most certainly true. It isn’t that you do not like your colleagues — however so long as you are surrounded by new folks, why not achieve a few of that contemporary perspective I discussed earlier? It exhibits an curiosity in attending to know the parents who’re there, and units the tone so that you can alternate humorous workplace tales, which is at all times a fantastic icebreaker with somebody unfamiliar.

17. “Alright, I’ve acquired an superior advertising joke for you.”

This solely works should you even have an superior advertising joke. Fortunately, my colleague Corey Wainwright wrote a listing for you here, so that you’re all set.

Able to Community?

Typically, we joke that if all else fails, you possibly can simply say to the individual standing subsequent to you, “I would like a drink!” If it has been an extended day, it is doubtless that the individual will agree with you, and may even be occupied with becoming a member of you. (However please, drink responsibly — all your nice dialog starters will go to waste if you find yourself overdoing it.)

The purpose is, so long as you are being applicable, you can begin a dialog about practically something. And if it helps to know, I believed I might point out that my private favourite icebreaker is the usage of these impartial compliments I went over in #3. I determine, if it labored with a star chef I as soon as met at an occasion, it will work at INBOUND, proper?

We won’t wait to see you there—grab your tickets, and remember to say hello.

Editor’s Observe: This submit was initially printed in July 2014 and has been up to date for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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