18 Easy Conversation Starters For Networking Events

I think one of the hardest things about networking events is striking up a conversation with someone—without feeling awkward about it. Approaching someone new can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. So, what are some natural and easy ways to break the ice?

Here are some tips and tricks for starting a conversation at a networking event:

Go fishing at the food table


While waiting in line for food, start chatting with the person next to you. This is a great opportunity to start a conversation because you already have something in common: the food. Everyone is thinking the same thing. What am I going to try? What is good? So instead of standing in silence, start a conversation.

Here are some conversation starters for this situation:

  • “Oh man, everything looks great. I’m not sure what to get! What are you thinking?”
  • “Yummy, they have ____! Have you ever tried it?”
  • “Hmm, I’m not sure what that dish is…do you know?”

Who knows, you might leave the buffet with a nice plate of food and a new acquaintance! It’s a win-win in my book.

Find a single person

Man networks with colleague at work


If you see someone standing alone in the corner, clutching his or her drink and looking miserable, don’t be afraid to go up and introduce yourself. Usually, these people need a little help to carry on a conversation.

Here are some ice breakers:

  • “Man, these networking events are so crazy. How about if I join you somewhere a little quieter?”
  • “Oh, there are tons of people here! The food must be good, right?”

If someone is standing alone, he or she probably feels uncomfortable or insecure. If you start a conversation, it will make them feel more relaxed Ready to connect.

Appreciate them

Woman looking to start a conversation at a networking event


Everyone loves a compliment, especially when they’re insecure (and many people feel that way when attending networking events). If you’re struggling to start a conversation with someone, find out Something to appreciate.

Here are some ideas:

  • “Yum, that drink is good. What’s that?”
  • “Nice shoes! Where did you get them?”

Talk about sports

A group of professionals at a networking event


People love Talking about sports. If you’re an athlete, use it to your advantage!

Anyone wearing a Red Sox cap? “Red Sox fan, huh? Did you catch the game yesterday?” Say that. Heard a bunch of people talking about last night’s game? “Are you talking about ____?” Express your interest in the conversation by saying something like And then chime in.

Just say hello

A man strikes up a conversation at a networking event


Sometimes, the easiest way to meet someone is to shake their hand and say, “Hi, I’m Peter.”

Just introduce yourself with a smile A dash of faith Miracles can be done.

Continuing the conversation

A group of experts in a meeting


I know what you’re thinking. Yes, yes, that’s all well and good, but how do I continue the conversation after the initial question? It’s easy! Talk about something else you have in common—even this event!

Here are some ideas:

  • “I’m Gina, nice to meet you…”
    • “So, this is your first time at one of these events?”
    • “So, how did you hear about this incident?”
    • “What a great place for an event, huh? Ever been here before?”

After that, try to learn more about them. Questions may include:

  • “Are you from that area?”
  • “What job are you in or trying to get into?”

Next step: Get them talking. Remember, people generally like to talk about themselves. So, after they tell you what they do, ask questions about it. Here are some:

  • “It’s very interesting…”

Bonus: Your exit strategy

Professionals smile at a networking event


It’s that time: your drink is dry and you’re ready to move on. When the conversation starts to stall, don’t try to force it further. Remember, you’re meant to mix and match—don’t lock yourself in with one person all night.

If you want to exit the conversation, try one of these lines:

  • “Well, the line is down a bit so I’m going to get some food now. It’s nice to meet you!”
  • “Have you met Lisa? She works in your industry as well. I’m sure you two will have a lot to talk about. I need to say hello to someone, but I’ll be right back.”
  • “Well, I think it’s time to head out. But, I want to talk to you again! Your card/contact information?”

Remember these conversation starters (and enders) to get the most out of your time at your next networking event. Happy networking!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date and was inspired by the author’s personal experiences and the advice of author Susan Roane. How to make a room work.

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