Nobody likes networking! And it’s especially frustrating when your networking efforts are mistaken for romantic advances. Here are a few easy conversation starters can help you power through your nerves and forge new connections that make your intentions clear, even though he’ll definitely still think you’re coming onto him, no matter what.
“Did you go to school for this, or is it just something you fell into?”
This perfect introduction speaks to a common truth for young professionals: our careers don’t always end up where we thought they would! This open-ended question gives him plenty of room to talk about himself and learn from his personal path, and let him wonder if you’re the dating type or down for a one-night stand.
“What’s the biggest challenge your organization is facing?”
This conversational staple will put him at ease, allowing him to share what’s important in his job. Unfortunately, it’ll also get him talking about late nights at the office, that new accounting associate fresh off her co-op, and what you’re doing next Saturday. Networking is so full of surprises!
“Do you belong to any other networking organizations?”
This is a great way to keep the conversation focused on your common goal: connecting with other professionals and discovering new opportunities. Speaking of other opportunities, he knows this great cocktail bar up the block that has a live jazz band, exciting menu, and intimate booths so it’s much easier to get to know someone better.
“How do you handle work/life balance at your company?”
This is a totally reasonable question about the workplace that establishes clear boundaries. This has zero chance of being taken as flirting. Unless, of course, he explains that he’s actually not married, and immediately asks if you’re seeing someone.
Even the most experienced professionals get intimidated by networking, but keeping a few conversation starters in your back pocket can help almost anyone. Now all you have to worry about is dressing professionally, talking about your accomplishments, and inventing an excuse as to why you refuse to exchange business cards. Now this is what breaking the glass ceiling looks like!