Networking Opportunity

Conversation Killers: How To Ruin A Networking Opportunity


Mastering “small talk” is key to networking and relationship development – it enables you to effectively establish rapport, command the attention of others, and boosts your self-confidence in conversational situations. How well you’re able to communicate can make or break a networking opportunity.

WATCH: Networking Conversation Killers [Video Sketch]

A while back, I interviewed Debra Fine on the Career Success Radio Show. Debra is the author of the book, The Fine Art of Small Talk, which offers a wealth of advice in how to start a conversation, keep it going and leave a lasting positive impression of yourself.

How To Ruin A Networking Opportunity

One of the things that Debra mentions in her book is a list of “Conversation Killers” – topics you DEFINITELY want to avoid initiating in a conversation. Those conversation killers include the following questions and topics:

Are you married? Do you have any kids? What are you going to do with either one of these if the response is “no?”

How’s your job at ABC Company? Unless you know the person VERY well, don’t assume anything. Avoid putting the person on the spot or in an uncomfortable position.

How’s your wife? How’s your husband? Again, don’t make ANY assumptions regarding relationships; the answer to this line of questioning can bring a conversation to a screeching halt.

Who’d you vote for? Politics is definitely a “no-no” – don’t even think about going there.

Where’d you go to college? Those who did not go to college or did not complete their degree find this question uncomfortable. If it comes up in the conversation, it’s okay to talk about it, but avoid initiating the topic and avoid making any presumptions about the individual’s educational background.

Bottom line, you want to avoid asking personal questions you don’t already know the answer to.

Related Posts

18 Easy Conversation Starters For Networking Events
Interview Tips: Master Your Nonverbal Communication
8 Steps To Build Relationships After A Networking Event

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson, founder of Career Success Partners, is a leading authority on career success and a 15-year career coaching veteran.


  1. it’s surely safe to ask “Where’d you go to college” if you’re at a meeting of an academic honor society alumni group.

  2. I’ve found that just asking “What do you like to do?” as your first question – not even asking about their job, etc – has lead to so many great questions. Plus it relaxes people and makes the connections more personal as you end up talking about trips, golf, whatever.

  3. personal questions should be avoided in a networking meeting.One may have unresolved issues in a relationship and dwelling on such areas may be detrimental.avoid such questions for people you do not know.

    • I am not married and have no children. I’ve had conversations stop dead in their tracks with this question. I’ve found that most married people with children have absolutely no clue how to react to this. So much so that sometimes I just say I’m divorced …with no children. For some reason, that does not create quite as much of a cliff drop which allows me to move on to the more important networking topics.

    • Well I would say something about it only if they mentioned it themselves. He or she who is a family oriented person would say something about it. Thats when its safe to say something about family.

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