Especially in certain periods of the year, company parties are everywhere: your company, clients’ companies, suppliers’ companies etc. Many people find company parties boring and only attend them if the feel obligated to do so.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A company party can be a great opportunity to meet new people and strengthen relationships with people you appreciate, to network and have fun at the same time; particularly if you know some good conversation starters.
The Professional-Personal Mix
People often feel confused about starting and having conversations at a company party because they don’t know if it’s best to treat them in a more personal or a more business way in terms of topics.
Considering it’s the party of a company, starting a conversation talking about business related topics is perfectly OK: the job, the latest business projects and the company.
On the other hand, keep in mind that it is a party after all and people attending it often like to forget about business for a while. For this reason, it’s best not to talk about professional stuff the whole time and eventually transition to personal topics. It is also fine to use convo starters that take the conversation directly to personal topics.
Conversation Starters Ideas
Let’s take things one step further with some smart ideas for conversation starters which you can use at company parties:
1. “How’s work going for you?” – A simple, straightforward, work related conversation starter which work great, unless the other person is very shy or hates their work.
2. Ask about specific projects – If you want a more specific approach, use more specific questions such as “What projects have you been working on lately?” or “How is project X going?”
3. Give a compliment – It can be about the person’s choice of clothes for the party, their recent promotion, their success in a challenging project, anything you can honestly compliment.
4. Make a comment about company parties – Every person who has attended at least a couple of them has some thoughts about them. Don’t be afraid to admit you find most company parties boring but you hope this one will be fun. This can be a good way to build some rapport.
5. Latch on the time of the year – Most company parties are near Easter, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. So, ask questions about preparations and celebration of that particular event.
6. “How are things outside work going for you?” – Get personal and get to know the other person with their life outside of work.
7. “Married? / Kids? / Plans in this area?” – If you like to talk about family, do use this kind of conversation starters. Many people enjoy talking about their family; it’s a very warm topic.
8. “Do you believe the people who are promoted in a / this company are the people who fit in?” – I love to start conversations using business related opinion openers. Just make sure you’re actually interested in the opinion you’re asking for.
These are just some ideas. I’m sure you can find many more good conversation starters for a company party as long as you understand the basic principle. Good luck with them and remember to enjoy the ride!