Want to Make a Great First Impression? These Topics Are Guaranteed to Kill the Conversation

Networking events can be a great opportunity to expand your professional circle, but let’s be real, nobody wants to be stuck in a conversation about their co-worker’s aunt’s neighbor’s cat. To avoid becoming the subject of eye rolls and fake bathroom breaks, check out these conversation topics to avoid at your next networking event.

Personal Topics

Don’ts: Make sure to always ask someone about their political and religious beliefs, even if they’re a complete stranger. Bonus points if you can get into a heated argument within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.

Dos: Personal topics such as religion, politics or illness can be too sensitive and uncomfortable for others.


Don’ts: Be sure to ask everyone you meet how much money they make, what their net worth is, and whether they have any debt. After all, it’s important to know how financially successful your new networking connections are.

Dos: Money talk can be inappropriate and awkward, especially discussing salaries or income. Asking about the price of something can also come off as tacky.  It’s also inappropriate to brag about something we own or something we received as a gift.

Bad Habits

Don’ts: Nothing breaks the ice quite like announcing to a group of strangers that you’re going outside for a smoke break or that you’re hungover from the night before. They’ll be sure to remember you as the life of the party.

Dos: Habits such as smoking or drinking should be kept to ourselves. We don’t want to be written off as unprofessional or unreliable.


Don’ts: Make sure to loudly announce your dietary restrictions and preferences to everyone around you. Bonus points if you make a big scene when the catering options don’t meet your specific needs.

Dos: Our diet may not be the best conversation topic. Informing the waiter or host ahead of time about our food intolerances is a better option.


Don’ts: Start spreading rumors about people you don’t even know, and make sure to share all the juicy details with your new networking connections. They’ll love hearing about all the drama, and you’ll be known as the go-to source for office gossip.

Dos: Gossiping about others is a big no-no. It can make us look bad and others may think we’ll gossip about them too.

Family Specifics

Don’ts: Always ask people about their marital status, whether they have children, and whether they plan on having any in the future. They’ll appreciate your interest in their personal lives, and you’ll be seen as a caring and compassionate person.

Dos: Specific questions about someone’s family, marriage, or children can be intrusive and uncomfortable. General questions are okay, but they may be going through a divorce or simply do not want to talk about it to protect their privacy.


Don’ts: Make sure to ask everyone you meet what they do for a living, and immediately start evaluating whether they’re worth your time based on their job title. After all, you don’t want to waste your time talking to someone who can’t help you advance your career.

Dos: Asking someone about their job as the first question can come off as opportunistic. It is a very common occurrence in society, but not entirely fortunate. It can sound as if we are only trying to find out how they can help us, or whether it is worth talking to them. If someone asks us about our work, it is okay to ask them back. Let’s try to be more creative with our conversation starters.

Check out the article Conversation Topics for Networking Events for a list of appropriate conversation topics. Also, small-talk is an essential part of everyday life, if you want to know how to do it right, read Golden Rules for Effortless Small Talk.

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