People in my sales seminars tell me the biggest challenge they face when networking is not knowing what to say. So they often avoid meeting new people or avoid going to networking events at all, losing out on countless sales opportunities.
Savvy networkers know that the key to effective conversations is to ask questions. Asking questions lets you accomplish three things at the same time.
First, it gives you control of the conversation, relieving the other person of having to think of what to say next. As a result, you can direct the conversation and keep it moving.
Second, it provides you with valuable information. In order for you to figure out if you can be of help to this person—or if they can be of help to you—you need to know more about them. (You already know all about you.)
And third, questions communicate your interest in the other person, helping them feel appreciated and understood. (The secret to building instant rapport.) And it’s a fact of human nature that if you give people a chance to talk about themselves, they’ll think you’re a great conversationalist!
Here are some questions you can ask in almost any networking situation:
1. What do you do?
2. Do you have a specialty or an area of focus?
3. How do you do that?
4. How did you get into that field?
5. What changes have you seen in your industry?
6. What do you love most about what you do?
7. What’s your biggest challenge?
8. What’s your latest success?
9. What are you hoping to achieve next?
10. Who’s your target market?
11. How did you hear about this event?
12. What made you come here tonight?
13. Have you been here before?
14. Are you a member of this organization?
15. Who else do you know here?
16. What do you read to keep up?
17. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
18. Where are you from?
19. Where did you go to school?
20. What was your major?
21. How long have you been in the area?
22. What made you move out here?
23. What do you do for fun?
24. Are you a sports fan?
25. Did you see the game last night?
26. Do you have any kids?
And perhaps my absolute favorite networking question:
27. Where else do you go to network?
Memorize these questions, develop a few of your own and use them the next time you’re at a networking event. You’ll find the conversation flows easily and productively.
Do you have a suggestion to add to this list? What are your favorite networking questions?