35 Conversation-Starter Questions for Social and Networking Events

Meeting people and socializing during the holidays at work parties and social events can be stressful. These great conversation-starter questions can make meeting new people much easier.

When you’re meeting someone new, it can be hard to think of what to say. If you’re at a conference, holiday party, or other social setting it can be stressful to try and think of something to talk about.

And if socializing and networking isn’t something you enjoy, it can feel forced and fake.

Instead of focusing on yourself and trying to think of what to talk about under pressure, try asking questions instead.

Ask Questions to Get a Conversation Going

Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation, or move a conversation forward.

And if you’re at a social event and you just can’t bear to talk about work any more, you can use more creative questions to keep it fun and interesting.

And it’s simple to do: if you’re standing next to someone, simply ask them a question about something in eyesight or the event you’re attending. 

Look at these simple examples:

“That necklace is stunning. Is there a story behind it?” 

“Have you been to this conference before?” 

“How do you know the hostess?”

People like to talk about themselves. Asking questions is a wonderful way to take the pressure off yourself and learn more about someone you may enjoy meeting.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” 

– Dale Carnegie

But How to Know Which Questions to Ask?

To determine the best approach to take with conversation-starter questions, consider your situation and the context. 

For example, if you think you haven’t been taken seriously at work, and you cross paths with the Director of a team you want to work for, it could be best to choose a serious question. This could help others see you as a more serious professional. Asking “what are some of the biggest challenges your team is taking on these days?” could work well in that situation. 

But if you’re sitting at a dining table with peers you don’t know and no one’s talking, and you want to lighten the mood, you might say, “Okay, everybody, cats or dogs? Why?” Or you might say you’re looking for your next fantastic movie to watch, and would love recommendations.  This could help everyone relax, become more engaged, and inspire conversation and laughter.

Let the situation be your guide for which conversation starter questions to choose. 

But don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Relax and enjoy yourself, too.

And you just may find a way you can help someone in some way, big or small. You might have information they’re looking for, or a contact that can help. Be kind, courteous, and interested, and you’ll likely enjoy yourself.

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”

Zig Ziglar

Related: Networking Tips and Guidance for Professional and Social Events


The list of conversation starter questions below can be a great place to start. Read over and find questions that seem like a more natural fit for your personality. Or use the list as inspiration to come up with your own. 

Some are whimsical. Some are serious. Consider the event and the conversation partner. Determine the approach you’d like to take and let that guide which questions you choose to use. 

  1. What’s a challenge you’re facing that you’re looking forward to? 
  2. What’s one of the biggest challenges you’re facing these days?
  3. What are you excited about today?
  4. What are you excited about this week?
  5. Are there any projects you’re working on that you’re particularly excited about?
  6. Who are some of your greatest inspirations?
  7. What great books would you recommend? 
  8. What are you reading?
  9. What’s the best book you’ve read this year? Why?
  10. What’s on your reading list that you’re most excited about reading?
  11. Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are your current favorites? 
  12. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned this year? 
  13. What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year? 
  14. What’s your all-time favorite movie?
  15. Were there any pivotal events in your life that resulted in the most positive growth and outcomes? What lessons did you learn from these? 
  16. Are there any great pieces of advice that stand out to you?
  17. Have you been given advice that you’ve incorporated into your life and follow?
  18. What question are you never asked that you wish someone would ask you?
  19. What would people be surprised to know about you?
  20. If you could have anyone in the world over for visit and conversation, who would it be?
  21. What’s your favorite thing about where you live and why?
  22. Cats or dogs? Why?
  23. Where is your favorite place to travel? Why?
  24. What’s the biggest adventure you’ve ever been on?
  25. What’s your favorite question that people ask you?
  26. What’s your favorite vacation spot and why?
  27. What is your superpower?
  28. What do you wish you’d learned a long time before you actually learned it?
  29. What’s your favorite hobby?
  30. What’s your favorite way to spend time outside?
  31. What’s the most valuable career advice you’ve ever received?
  32. Where is the strangest place you’ve ever been? 
  33. What movie could you watch over and over again and never get tired of?
  34. What luxury item do you consider totally worth the money?
  35. If you didn’t work, how would you spend your time? 

Choose the questions that feel like the best fit for your personality and situation. Having them handy will help until it becomes more natural for you. 

“Networking is simply starting a conversation with no destination in mind.”

Kathryn Crawford Wheat


The list of conversation-starter questions can be a great tool for any type of event – whether you’ll be meeting new people or seeing old friends. But they can be especially helpful to break the ice with people you don’t yet know.

Pick the ones that feel most natural, relax, and give them a try. You’ll come across as a confident conversationalist. Your friends will be asking how it comes so naturally for you!

If you truly are an introvert and a lot of conversation drains you, know your limits, take some breaks in between conversations, and get some quiet time after.

If you’d like clear guidance on how to become more natural and confident at networking and social events, read Networking Tips and Guidance for Professional and Social Events

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