Networking is an inevitable and integral part of professional success. Some of us are naturals. Many of us are not. At your next conference will you make an impression by contributing to the conversation or be a wallflower that is easily missed? Don’t lamely reach for stale standbys like the weather. Have a stockpile of your own personal conversation-starters to draw others out and facilitate meaningful dialogue.
Central to good conversation is the art of drawing others out, learning about their strengths, and sharing insights and ideas. Here are some of our favorites:
What was your first job?
What failure taught you the most?
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
What project are you most excited about right now?
How have you seen your industry change in your career?
Where do you see it going?
What do you wish people understood better about your position?
Who is one person who helped you get where you are?
What skill do you wish you had?
What is your biggest take-away from this event?
How have you had to adapt in your career?
Positive impressions—even ones with individuals you crossed paths with once at a conference—can yield substantial results in your career when you find yourself across from that person at your next job interview or when they decide to call you to collaborate on a project. Make the most of every interaction by having a toolkit well stocked with conversation prompts.