A round-up of networking questions for every level of social energy
It sounds like the start to a joke: What happens when you bring introvert, extrovert and ambivert strangers together and force them to talk to each other?
In practice, this often results in folks gravitating toward others of their personality type (intentionally or not!), or if they do mix across type, extroverts inadvertently dominate the conversation (I say this as an extrovert 🥴).
A great way around this stratification / discomfort is to provide folks conversation starters that are tailored to different energy levels. There are several decks you can buy online that do this (this deck separates questions into "light" vs. "deep", while this deck has "fun and light" questions vs. "a bit deeper" questions); for a recent Madison Women in Tech speed networking event with UW-Women in IT, we created a homegrown version.
Madison WiT is a community group Ten Forward has long sponsored and helped organize; below are questions we compiled for the event. We wrote questions for three distinct categories:
- Bicycle (generic, requiring low social energy or creativity)
- Airplane (more individual, requiring medium social energy or creativity)
- Spaceship (specific or personal, requiring high social energy or creativity)
Each round featured one question from each category, visible to all participants, and folks could choose which question they wanted to answer based on their comfort level, social energy capacity or creativity level.
We received great feedback on having an array of questions available tailored to different social capacities, and plan to stick with a similar format for future networking events. ❤️ Feel free to use any or all of the below questions for your events!
For folks feeling low on social energy or in a social situation they're still figuring out how to navigate, these questions are more standard and allow someone to participate without getting too personal.
- “What was the name of your first pet, and why did you choose it?”
- “What’s the last TV show you binge-watched?”
- “What’s your current favorite snack food?”
- “What career did you want when you were a kid?”
- “What’s your favorite animal, and why?”
- “What instrument do you play, have you played, or would you like to learn?”
- “What’s the worst candle scent you can think of?”
For those more comfortable or with a little more energy, these questions guide the participant deeper into sharing than the Bicycle questions; they still focus on broader topics, but allow for the inclusion of personal details.
- “What are some strategies that you’ve found to be helpful in your career?”
- “What's a hidden talent of yours?”
- “What do you think should be taught in school — but isn’t?”
- "What trait do you admire most in your best friend?"
- “What do you like best about the work you’re doing right now?”
- “Does your name have any specific meaning? (Either literal, to you or to your family)”
- “What’s a topic not related to work that you wish you knew more about?”
These are the high-energy questions. They involve sharing information that's more specific to the speaker and invites them to be vulnerable, and / or they require a greater level of creativity on the part of the participant.
- “What do strangers compliment you on?”
- “What's something you wish more people would ask you about?”
- “What's an outfit you own that makes you feel extra confident?"
- “What’s a setback from your past that was difficult at the time but now seems funny?”
- “What's a culinary dish you associate with your childhood?”
- “What genre would you pick if you had to write a book about your life?”
- “What's something everyone else loved that you just couldn't connect with? (movie, book, trend, etc.)”