Tired of talking about the weather or how the Badgers are doing? Use these five conversation starters to find out more about someone than their job, and help forge a meaningful connection.
But isn’t talking about work the point of networking? Not always! Research by Monica Mullick Stallings shows that we form deeper, longer-lasting connections with those with whom we have a multiplex-tie — i.e., more in common than just work. So, don’t be afraid to let the lines blur a little when creating new connections.
- What project are you working on that you are most excited about?
This allows a person to answer in a variety of ways, which is what makes it such a good opening question. They may respond about a work project, like making mascot try outs more efficient, or a personal project, like creating a master plan for the Badgers to win the Rose Bowl.
- What was your biggest accomplishment last year?
Maybe they helped get gender-neutral bathrooms at their workplace or built a treehouse with their daughter. Again, the key to the question is how the other person interprets it — let them guide the conversation, and listen closely for things you can connect on.
- What’s your favorite thing to do in this city?
Are they a foodie, or do they know all the best clubs? This can be a great way to learn about their interests and also can help you find out some good places to go whether you are a local or tourist.
- What do you do for fun?
Sometimes establishing a personal connection first can help boost your professional connection. Figuring out that you have a shared interest, like knitting cheeseheads, can set the groundwork for an engaged conversation about your professional lives.
If you liked these tips and want to learn more about getting ahead in your career, check out the Career Resources Library at uwalumni.com/careers.