28 Small Talk Conversation Starters for Those Awkward Moments

You know that feeling when you go to a networking event and have to wait in line to get a cup of coffee.
Or, you’re picking up a vendor at reception and have 3 minutes before you reach the meeting room for the real talk.
Those moments were always what caught me out. How can you break the ice and not sound forced or fake? How can you actually network?
To help you get through those awkward pauses, I have compiled 28 small talk conversation starters. These conversation starters are best used to chat to new people at events and big meetings. However, you can adapt them for use at work (especially number 12 which is my go to phrase when I am in the lift with someone who has just been collected from reception). ‘).
Next: 6 Reasons Professional Networking Is Important
This 2-page PDF of conversation starters is available in the resource library. They can be divided into two categories:
Questions that are not really questions
Questions that aren’t actually questions

A US reader wrote me to me when I published the list. He said that he now lives in the UK and that people would NEVER ask the first question unless they were the Queen.
Although I’m not the Queen, I get asked this question all the time by people I meet. It’s quite common at networking events, especially professional events, but I wouldn’t say it that way to one my parents from the playground. He didn’t realize I was British, I think!
Although you can’t just pull out the list and start reading, it is possible to memorize some of the most important points and keep them in your mind.
It doesn’t matter if you’re networking within your company or trying to avoid being Billy-no-mates at conferences, it never hurts having a few standard phrases to use when you need to make small talk.
These phrases are great because the people you use them with will change over time. It doesn’t matter if you ask 20 people the exact same question, as they are unlikely to meet up to compare their conversational skills. While you can do the job with one, it’s worth having several to make it more interesting and allow you to adapt to the situation.
Are you wondering where you can find these? Check out my list for current conference on project management.
Register for the Resource Library to get access and I’ll send you the link to the resource library so you can download the freebie. Fold it up and place it in your bag.