10/02/2007

Great Questions To Ask When Networking

Networking has always been a joy of mine.

Meeting and getting to know new and interesting people is always a lot of fun, because it is like a box of chocolates...when you walk into the room "You never know what you are going to get."

When talking and communicating with someone I have found that there are some questions and language techniques that foster good conversation and others that stunt it and make it feel like it is a chore when talking to the other person.

As far as making the conversation a chore, I have found from my experience that when you ask people Yes, or No questions it turns into a very one-sided interrogating exchange. It is almost like you are questioning them about each and every little thing about their life, without giving them the opportunity to share how they feel about something, or understand why they think about things the way they do.

Questions to avoid...

Do you like__________ (Fill in blank)?
How old are you ______?
Have you ever__________?

When conversations flow, I have found through my experience that when you ask open-ended questions, giving the other person the opportunity to share the way they feel about something, or further help them out with a problem they may be having...it helps you build more rapport with them, which will lead to a better relationship down the road. Knowing that "You never get a second chance to make a first Impression" -Cuban...It is essential that we really make the other person feel like we want to genuinely get to know them more...and from what I have found asking open questions do the job extremely well.

Here are some good open ended questions that I typically use when networking. I always remembered my father saying..."Remember Scott, Who, What, Where, When, Why and How"

Good questions...
What projects are currently working on?
Why do you think _____________ (fill in blank)?
What books do you like to read?
Why do you like __________ (fill in the blank)?
Why did you choose ____________?
Tell me a about yourself...

I can go on and on with these questions but I think you get the point. The key is that when you ask these questions, let the person answer and then give them the opportunity to ask you the same question...Naturally due to the nature of these open ended questions they will give you more than a yes or no answer.

You can use this technique when networking with other people...Ask the other person the questions you want them to ask you...naturally if the other person doesn't know what to ask next during your exchange, they will naturally revert back to the initial question you asked them.

Like I have mentioned before when speaking with someone...imagine it like a tennis match...You bounce the ball over, and they bounce it back...If they don't bounce it back they are either not interested in getting to know you more, or they are not worth your time.

Another tip that you can use during conversation are phrases and different language that will help the other person articulate what it is they are thinking.

Phrases like...
Tell me more about ____________ (fill in the blank)
Could you elaborate more on ______________...I found that interesting.
You mentioned earlier that _________________ tell me more about that.
I am having trouble understanding ____________...what did you mean by that?
What do you mean when you say ___________?

I hope you find these questions and tips beneficial to your networking endeavors. Again let me know if there is anyway I can help you and feel free to subscribe to my personal mailing list on the side panel to stay up to date with cool content and info I come across.

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6 comments:

Nicole Bandes said...

Great post Scott!

A few other questions I have always felt helpful were...

"When you aren't working or networking, what do you like to do?"

"What do you like best about what you do?"

"Describe the absolute BEST client (or customer or referral) for you." Of course, you can really help a lot of people with this because most can't do it.

Scott Bradley said...

Nicole,

I really like those questions.

Those are great editions to the post.

Thanks for adding more value to this post.

Prem Rao said...

Good post, Scott. I believe body langauge is a huge factor in networking. Maintaining eye contact, the right posture and tone of voice add immensely to the value of these questions.

http://premrao.blogspot.com/

Scott Bradley said...

Prem,

I have to agree with you as well...If you are talking with someone who is looking away, hunched over, and disengaged...they are not worth your time in my opinion.

Great comment!

Jason Jacobsohn said...

Nice reminder of how to have an engaging conversation. By asking good questions, it shows that you care about having a good conversation and that you want to get to know the other person. If you only ask "yes/no" questions, then you may struggle to have a meaningful conversation. Scott, you are right that if the person doesn't reciprocate with a good question, then there may not be an interest in both sides to talk. That is when you move on.

Scott Bradley said...

Jason,

I agree with you 100%!