35 Ice Breakers to Make Networking Events a Little Less Awkward

Getting ahead in business is infinitely easier when you have extensive networks and strong relationships. But unless you naturally have charm, charisma, and confidence, even starting a conversation can seem like a mammoth task. These 50 ice breakers should help making introductions a little easier, allowing you to eventually move on to business.

Ice breaker in business meeting

A few helpful pointers:

  • Not all of these ice breakers will work in every situation for every person. Pick the one you think will work best, and if in doubt stick to the more conservative ice breakers.
  • Don’t recite these ice breakers word for word – just take the idea and use the language that comes naturally and is appropriate to the event so that you sound authentic and genuine.
  • The ice breaker is just the beginning. Listen carefully to whatever your associate has to say so you can build on the good start.

The conference

  1. How did you hear about the event?
  2. Did you come here with people, or are you on your own as well?
  3. Is there a cloakroom here or do we just hold onto bags and coats?
  4. So, what do you make of the conference so far?
  5. Is this your first time at this conference?
  6. Do you attend many industry events?
  7. What a great place for this event – the building is beautiful.
  8. These networking events can get a little much for me, mind if I join you here where it’s a bit quieter?
  9. Have you checked out many of the stall attendees? ____ is handing out free USB chargers.
  10. Have you had any of the food yet? I wasn’t planning on eating, but the ____ looks great.

The Speakers

  1. Have you had a chance to look through the schedule yet? I’d love to see ___ speak, but she clashes with ___ so I’m torn.
  2. If you haven’t seen ___ present before I’d really recommend it – she always comes out with a handful of really great tips.
  3. I thought ___ gave a fantastic talk – what did you make of it?
  4. I’m really interested in what ___ has to say on the effects of changing government regulations – is there anything you’re looking forward to?
Speaker Manj Carthigaser
photo credit: TEDx Bratislava

Inspect their name badge

  1. You used to work with ___ right? He was just recently telling me about your work on ___.
  2. Oh, you work for ___? Our company practically depends on your software.
  3. You’re employed at ___? That must be a great company to work for – how long have you been with them?
  4. I see you work at ___ – do you happen to know ___?


  1. Did you have to travel far to get here?
  2. Do you know this city well? I’m wondering if there is a good Chinese restaurant nearby.
  3. Those are great shoes, where did you get them?
  4. How’s your day going?
  5. Did you catch the game last weekend? Another typical result…
  6. This weather we’re having is great / awful – how long is it going to stay like this?
  7. Mind if I just put my glass here?…
  8. Do you know if attendees are meeting at a bar later tonight?
  9. Is the wine drinkable?
Pouring wine
photo credit: Duane Storey


  1. Is that the new iPhone? I’ve had an Android for years, but every time Apple releases a new phone I think about changing.
  2. Do you happen to know if this event has free wifi?
  3. The only person I’ve had a meaningful conversation with so far is the bartender – I should probably introduce myself to someone else.
  4. I’ll be blogging about the best and worst conversation starters at this event – where would you rank this one?
  5. I think I’ve lost all my colleagues – is that a good or a bad thing?
  6. I think I under-dressed for the event – everyone here is so well put together!
  7. I love your nametag, where did you get it?
Apu Kwik-E-Mart name badge
photo credit: Wally Gobetz

And one more for luck…

  1. Hi, nice to meet you, I’m …