The Best Conversation Starters For When You're Stranded At A Networking Event

Illustrated by Ariel Davis.
Have you ever put on your Professional Pants and hauled yourself to a networking event, hoping to meet some movers and shakers in your field and maybe even get some job leads, only to wind up awkwardly sipping coffee in a corner — alone? Me, too.

Being an introvert is tough enough in day-to-day life, what with all the required human interaction of, say, grocery shopping and public transportation and most jobs. But when you're stuck at an event where your entire purpose is to initiate conversation with strangers (ugh), it can be tempting to throw in the towel and go home. But guess what: You can start up a networking chat with just about anyone — provided you have the right script for the situation.

We spoke to career experts Amanda Augustine of TopResume and Jenny Foss of Job Jenny to get their takes on avoiding awkward silences at industry gatherings. Ahead are their best bets for getting the discussion started. Bonus: These pointers are even valuable for the extroverts among us. Because you may be an expert at making friends or asking out a date, but those skills don't necessary apply when you're rocking a Sharpie-scrawled name tag on your blazer.