Stepping into a room full of strangers can be nerve-wracking. You could be worried about making a good impression, the gap on your resume deterring recruiters, or effectively pitching your business. Whatever your situation, take comfort in knowing there are other people in that room just as nervous as you. Plus, 73% of respondents to a LinkedIn survey said they were hired through an introduction. To help you, here are some networking icebreakers guaranteed to get a conversation started:
Going up and saying hello might be the hardest part of networking. But, leading with confidence is all about feeling assured in yourself. If you feel like you can conquer that room, then you can!
- Hi, I’m ______. What’s your name?
- What brings you to this event?
- What is your profession?
- Are you here with colleagues?
- I saw you talking with____. Hi, I’m his/her/their colleague ____.
There are thousands of topics to cover when asking someone about their occupation. It can span from their work history, to their current job, and to their future goals. Here are a few to get you thinking:
- What projects are you currently working on?
- How long have you worked in your current position?
- What is your favorite aspect of your job?
- What is one thing you struggle with?
- What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
- Do you have a side hustle?
- What is your favorite work tip to share with others?
- What career decision would you advise others to make/avoid?
- What is your management style?
- What/Where are you looking to do/work in the future?
- What is your most unusual skill?
- What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
- What goals can I help you achieve?
Virtual networking opens conversations to remote/hybrid work situations. Chat about your struggles with virtual meetings or what new decor you bought for your home office. You might get a tech tip that boosts your personal brand or social media presence.
- What is the biggest challenge with working from home for you?
- How do you break up your at-home schedule?
- How did you choose your Zoom background?
- In what ways do you interact with your co-workers virtually?
- What social media platforms do you use for your business?
- Do you prepare differently for a virtual meeting vs. an in-person meeting?
- What three words describe your personal brand?
About the event
If you are attending an event with speakers, or a panel discussion, it can be a lot easier to prompt a conversation. Jot down some of your takeaways from the events you attend. This way you have an arsenal of topics ready at hand when you network.
- Did you hear ___ speak?
- Is this your first time at ______?
- What events/speakers are you going to next?
- What’s your favorite part of ______ so far?
- How have you been enjoying ______?
- I’m an expert in ____ field. Is there anything I can help you learn?
- Is there anyone I can introduce you to?
Networking doesn’t always have to be about business. The relationships you form at networking events could become lasting friendships. So, if conversations feel awkward or stilted, ask about their interests, hobbies, families, etc. Plus, it may lead you to some new resources to learn from in the future.
- What books/podcasts do you recommend?
- Who is someone that inspires you?
- How do you stay productive/motivated throughout your day?
- What is the best advice you received?
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
- What is your favorite work snack?
- How do you like to stay active?
- What do you like to do on your day off?
- What was your best vacation?
- What do you like to do in _____?
- Do you have any pets?
If you are looking for more networking events, IAW hosts weekly virtual and in-person events all over the globe. Come meet other professional women in your neighborhood or from your home. Check out our calendar to see our upcoming events!