8 Ultimate Opening Lines for Fearless Networking


network opening linesFor many people, simply walking into a room full of strangers can be terrifying—let alone one packed with potentially valuable work contacts … and maybe even a future boss.

But since savvy networking can be one of the best moves you can make for your career, it’s time to learn how to fearlessly bust through the doors of any work event—and own it.

That’s why we challenged three networking veterans to divulge the clever opening lines that will enable you to strike up a conversation with just about anyone, whether you’re mingling with hundreds of people at a convention center or a more intimate group at an after-work mixer.

Conversation Starter #1: “I just tried a slider from the buffet table, and I think I’m going to grab another. Care to join me?”

Hey, a networker’s gotta eat, right? And if half of the room is as starving as you are after a long day at the office, the action is likely happening over by the food, says Barbara Safani of Career Solvers and the author of “Happy About My Job Search.”

The best part about this opening line? Once you make it over to the noshes, you can easily—and effortlessly—strike up a conversation with even more people while sampling the hunger-quashing canapés.

Conversation Starter #2: “I was just on LinkedIn and saw that we went to the same college.” Or … “I saw on LinkedIn that you also worked with so-and-so!”

The most effective opening line is something that’s personal to the person, says LinkedIn’s career expert Nicole Williams, who’s also the author of “Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success.”

And while digging up info on other guests was hard before the advent of LinkedIn, Twitter and other social-networking sites, it’s now easy to find an opener that connects you to a fellow networker. Just ask the event organizer for a list of attendees a few days beforehand, and then do a quick internet search.

Conversation Starter #3: “How long have you been a member of this organization?”

Sometimes less really is more, says Kathleen Brady, a career coach and the author of “Get a Job! 10 Steps to Career Success.” This simple, open-ended question can work wonders to engage that shy someone who, by virtue of being at the same networking event, is there to meet people just like you. But try not to fire off too many questions at once—you don’t want your conversation to suddenly feel like an interrogation.

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  • expert in training

    Is it just me or what? I feel starter #2 is a little creepy.

    • Sarah Anne Giesbrecht

      In the context of academic research fields, I could see it working very well.

  • Lauren P

    I feel simply introducing oneself is a better idea than 50% of these “clever” lines…

  • Patricia Maddams

    Obviously conversation starters will depend on the crowd. I find a good one to ask someone, in a social conversation, is, “What do you do during the day?” since I am often in a group of older people, some of which are retired. I like question, What do you love about your work?” and to follow that, if someone does not seem to want to talk about work, “What do you love to do when you’re not working?” This helps you find out what the individual’s likes are, where their interest lies.

    • Fredrik

      Those are actually great tips and thanks for sharing!

  • Al

    I’d love to know the app that is used to add to LinkedIn. Anyone else have great electronic app ideas?

    • Inta

      there is application for Linkedin for Android and iOS. you can use it. :)

  • http://jeffringgenberg.com Jeff Ringgenberg

    I would strongly suggest not using the vast majority of these “clever” opening lines. This isn’t rocket science and overthinking how to initiate a conversation is the worst thing you can do. Whenever I’m at a conference, I simply ask people if they’ve learned anything new or what brought them to the event. For those who feel super uncomfortable in networking scenarios, try talking to that person who is standing by him/herself. You never know who you’ll meet and it’s a great way to feel more comfortable in those situations and you’ll come across far less creepy than if you tell them you stalked their Linkedin page. Just my thoughts.

  • C. Lynne

    I like where this article is focused. I would suggest using only open-ended questions and/or statements. Close-ended questions result in a quick “yes” or “no”. Its very easy to answer anYou want to start a conversation, not end it.

    • C. Lynne