Typically we’ll walk up to people we don’t know and ask a poorly phrased question such as “And what business are you in?”
However, there are five questions which will guarantee you leave a lasting impression when you’re networking with people and meeting them for the first time.
1) “What do you like best about what you do?”
This leads to a more interesting conversation about the other person’s business, their likes, dislikes and their experience. It’s much more effective than simply asking, “So, what do you do?” “What do you do” on it’s own doesn’t leave much room to manoeuvre, so if you ask what you do and move to “What do you like best about what you do,” they really open up and often talk more about their business.
2) “You mentioned that you were in (……) industry, what got you into that business?”
This gives the other person a chance to talk about their personal goals, their desires; it gives them a chance to really open up about what led them into what they’re doing. It also gives insight into how dedicated they are to the profession and how proficient they may be in that role based on how excited they are about it., In effect, it’s their story, what got them started. People who are in business for themselves for any length of time, are usually really excited to talk about what got them into it in the first place.
3)“Where else do you usually network?”
This really helps break the ice during maybe an awkward period just after the introductions and offers a chance to talk about something in common to both parties. They might tell you about some casual contact network somewhere that might be of interest to you that you haven’t heard about or that you haven’t gone to visit. Or they may tell you about other groups that they’re involved with that may be of interest to you.
4)“What are the biggest challenges in what you do?”
Use this question towards the end of your conversation as it will give you the opportunity to learn more about the other person’s challenges and it gives you an opportunity to possibly refer a contact to them. This doesn’t mean sell them your product or service, but it means, give them a connection to somebody who might be able to help them. It’s a powerful technique because it gives you an opportunity to allow easy follow-up ; ‘I know someone who can help with that’ or perhaps; “I read an article that addresses that very challenge that you’re talking about. Would you like to see a copy of it?” Either way they’ll hand you their business card, and say, “Would you mind sending that to me.” You know you’re networking correctly when somebody gives you their business card and says, “Would you contact me?”
5) “How can I help you?”
The 5th and final question, ideal for people you want to maintain contact with, If you decide that the person you’re talking with is someone you’d like to have in your network, it’s a great question to ask. Being helpful is probably the best way to start building a solid relationship with them. Don’t underestimate the power of “How can I help you,” especially if it’s somebody that you want to network with and they’re at a higher level of business that you are. People are always looking for successful people. however they rarely ask if they can help them. So if you want to make a good connection with a high level business professional, asking how you can help them is a great way to do it.
Why not try these questions out the next time you go networking, better still share what works for you in the comments box below.
Thanks for sharing!