It’s that time of year again — the office holiday party.
Unlike other work events, the holiday party is one that most people actually attend. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, and gives you face-time with pretty much everyone in the company, from the CEO to the most recent hire. That means you’d be smart to show up prepared.
Come up with a list of people you’re hoping to talk to in advance. Then, do some quick background research on them- skim their LinkedIn page, Twitter account, or blog. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to use any of my favorite questions and talking points. Then you’ll be set to strike up a conversation with even your most intimidating colleagues!
Conversation Starters for Company Leaders
I read that you went to…
Your go-to conversation starter should be something that demonstrates your interest in the person you’re talking to. Plenty of things can work. I also suggest: “I read a report that you contributed to” or “I read a blog that you wrote.” Both are flattering and open-ended, likely to generate a conversation rather than a simple yes or no response.
How did you get into the industry?
A favorite topic, especially among executives, is how they got where they are today. Because of that, this question is particularly good for striking up a conversation with the CEO or another high-level company member. People enjoy talking about themselves, and they enjoy reminiscing about what brought them to the work in the first place.
What was the best piece of advice that you got early on in your career?
This question is a bit cliché, but it’s still an effective way of connecting with higher-ups in your office. Plus, it will come off as flattering to the recipient.
What’s are some of your goals for 2016?
This will help you understand what’s most important to the company and its leaders on a more personal level. Plus, once you know them, you can think about how to align your own goals with theirs.
Conversation Starters for Anyone
Did you take a vacation this year? Where did you go?
If you’re looking for a friendly topic that anyone would enjoy, vacation is it. Asking about vacation will help you learn what your coworkers enjoy doing and how they unwind away from the office.
Have you seen any good movies lately? Movies you look forward to in 2016? Have you read any good books recently?
The best part about these questions is that they create endless follow-up questions. For example, if your coworker recently saw Star Wars:Episode VII, you can ask what he thought of it. If you’ve seen it too, you can have an entire discussion of it.
How did you meet your significant other?
If the person is attending with his or her significant other, I like to ask, “How did you two meet?” This always puts the person at ease since it’s a happy story and they’ve told it many times before. Also, it usually reveals enough common ground to keep the conversation rolling along for a while.
Do you have any pets?
People love their pets, and inquiring about them encourages further conversation.
Where do you live?
This is not meant to be creepy or intrusive. Finding out where someone is from can lead to an engaging conversation about what they like to do for fun in the area, why they chose to live there, if they’ll stay awhile, and so on.
How ’bout them Broncos?
Sports are a great, neutral topic that can often lead into further conversation about favorite players and fantasy teams.
Have you been to any great new restaurants lately?
Everyone loves to eat and talk about eating and share what and where they’ve been eating!
Just for Fun
- Do you prefer texting, calling or emailing?
- What’s your favorite emoji?
- Have you heard that Gwen Stefani is dating Blake Shelton?
- What do you think about the casting of Idris Elba as the new James Bond?
- What’s the worst holiday gift you’ve ever received?
- Do you have a favorite Kardashian sister?
- Most surprising celebrity divorce news of the year?
- Favorite celebrity baby names?
- What do you think about the Apple Watch?
- Apple Music or Spotify?
- What cartoons did you watch as a child?
- As a child, what did you aspire to be when you grew up?
It’s important to follow up on your conversations. If someone recommended a book to you, shoot them an email saying you got it and are looking forward to reading it. If you and a coworker discovered a mutual interest, find a related article and pass it along.
Do you have other conversation starters for the office holiday party? Be sure to share in the comments!