The first week of the semester is over, and it's time to PARTY!

Woman throwing her arms up in the air, twirling her hips, and saying

You receive a text invite to go to a party at a classmate's house that evening.

You arrive at the party and notice there are a LOT of people there!

Suddenly, someone comes towards you and tries to strike up a conversation. Unfortunately, instead of answering, you don't know what to say!

Woman shrugs her shoulders with an embarrased look on face.

That's awkward...

Luckily, the F.O.R.D method has four steps that can help you navigate these social situations, making you an expert with small talk!

F = Family

If you're stuck on what to say or how to keep the conversation going, start with what you know: your family.

Group of people sitting at a table, raising their glasses in a toast, and stating

Talking and asking about family is a great way to make a connection and start a conversation. It's universal and can encompass different relationships, including friends, pets, and partners.

Some Questions You Can Ask:

  • How many siblings do you have?

  • How old is your child?

  • Do you have family in the area?

  • How is your [mother, father, sister] doing?

Flaticon Icon Careful! Don't assume that everyone has a positive family situation. Don't be too nosy!


You've just met a new acquaintance at a party, and you're talking about your families. Which questions would NOT be appropriate to ask?

O = Occupation

Another way to connect with people is to talk about what they do for a living. Depending on the event, you can use this type of question for networking or to explore career opportunities you may have never thought of before!

Two women sitting at a table engaged in a conversation.

Some Questions You Can Ask:

  1. What do you do for a living?

  2. How do you like working at __________?

  3. What are you majoring in?

  4. What are you hoping to do after graduating later this year?

Flaticon Icon Careful! Some people may not feel comfortable answering questions about how much money they make and the companies they work (or want to work) for.


You're at a networking event, and you're having a conversation with someone who works at a local business. What questions are NOT appropriate to ask?

R = Recreation

Besides your family and professional goals, another great topic to talk about is recreation. Recreation refers to hobbies or interests you like to do for fun.

Man standing over box talking to a woman saying

Some Questions You Can Ask:

  • What do you like to do for fun?

  • Have you seen [that movie]?

  • What clubs do you suggest I join on campus?

Flaticon Icon Careful! Be cautious with how you respond to other people's interests. Avoid being negative or rude about people's hobbies if they're not hobbies you're interested in. You're trying to show interest in the person and what they have to say.

D = Dreams

Everyone has hopes and dreams. Why not share them and learn more about each other's goals and ambitions? These kinds of questions are considered deeper than the other three topics, and some people think these are the most fun questions to ask since they are open-ended.

Dark wall with the words

Some Questions You Can Ask:

  • What would you like to be if money weren't an issue?

  • What do you hope to do after you graduate?

  • Where would you like to travel?

  • Would you ever consider trying [sample activity]?

Flaticon Icon

Caution! Avoid making disparaging remarks or ridiculing their hopes and dreams. Everyone has different goals they want to accomplish in life.

Scenario: Put the F.O.R.D Method Into Action!

Read the scenario below and choose the correct answer based on what you learned above.

Flaticon Icon You're at a networking party, and you meet Janine. Janine is 25 years old, works as a software engineer at a local company, and graduated from the same school you attend. What are some possible questions you can ask Janine to get the conversation going?

A: What do you think about the other people at this party?

B: How long have you been working as a software engineer?

C: What kinds of activities were you involved in at school?

D: Why are you working as a software engineer? Isn't that boring?


What are some possible conversation questions you can ask Janine?

Take Action

Now that you know more about the F.O.R.D method, take these steps before your next event or social situation:

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