5 Networking Icebreaker Questions

By Siew Ching

Perfect timing for GRADUAN Aspire coming up next week!

You probably know by now that our highly anticipated career networking fair GRADUAN Aspire is back from 25 to 26 May at KL Convention Centre (if not, get all the deets here!). A highlight of this event is being able to meet all the leading Malaysian organisations that will be setting up booths to meet you, you, and you. If you don’t know it already, this is the best opportunity to shine as you network with the who’s who in the industry – and even the person who might be the one to hire you!

But we get it – whether it is your first networking event or if you’re a frequent flyer at these events, networking can be downright difficult and intimidating. We’ll say it: It’s hard to start meaningful conversations with strangers, even if your career depended on it.

How do you break the ice without seeming like you’re trying too hard? Should you talk about the weather (no)? Is it rude to ask about salaries (depends)? Can you talk about the latest TikTok life-at-work trends (sure, why not)?

Well, guess what – we got you covered, especially with GRADUAN Aspire just round the corner. Here are some open-ended networking icebreaker questions to help kick-off conversations with your potential employer.

“What brings you here?”
Perhaps not a question for our booth participants (we know why they are there) but maybe someone who’s not manning the booth or even our special guests. It’s a great way to learn what they think about events such as ours and maybe even get some advice on how you can properly navigate one. It’s also a good way to start a conversation, with something the two of you have in common (being at GRADUAN Aspire!) to build rapport and instant connection.

“What are some interesting things you’re working on right now?”
People like to talk about things they are passionate about. And asking them what gets them busy these days is a great way to get the conversation going as well as learn more about the individual you’re talking to both personally and professionally. Who knows, you might even have something in common or a cool idea to contribute!

“How long have you been a part of this organisation?”
A great icebreaker question gets the other person to talk more about themselves so you can glean the information for your next question. This simple question is exactly that – it is an open invitation to the other party to talk more about themselves, and it’s not a too intrusive question to begin your conversation with. Plus, it gives you a hint to the company’s culture; whether people are likely to work there for a long time or if it’s more work-and-go.

“Can you tell me what you do at the company?”
It’s simple, it’s straightforward. People expect this question so it’s a safe bet to start a conversation. Plus, it’s a topic we are all familiar with – our job! Follow it up with questions about how long they’ve been there (read previous tip!), what made them join said company, and what’s most interesting about the thing they’ve done.

“What do you like most about meeting people at events like this?”
A very insightful icebreaker question! From the answer, you’ll get to know the type of people the person you’re talking to is interested to meet and what catches their eye in a potential candidate. This way, you can craft your responses to suit that! Plus, it really gets the other person going to share their excitement of meeting new people – like you!

BONUS QUESTION: “What do you enjoy most about being part of your company?”
Asking about someone’s work is always a safe bet when it comes to networking events. This allows them to talk about their expertise and passion, providing valuable insight on the individual and even the company they work for.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash.

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