What I love most about networking is that, above all, it’s about meeting new people. I’m an authentic connector and I really enjoy learning about other people, making new connections, and expanding my network.
In my experience at hundreds of networking events, I can tell you that there are sure-fire conversation killers that you must avoid. Here’s the top one: not being curious.
Being curious means actively asking about other people to discover their motivations, who they are, and how you can deepen your mutual connection. The more curious you are while networking, the easier it will be to establish a meaningful relationship.
We’ve all been in this situation: we’re trying to keep the conversation going, but our efforts are falling flat. It gets awkward fast. To help you avoid this, here are my top 10 networking questions to help you spark meaningful conversation:
1. What brought you here? Or, how did you hear about this event? Another option: who else do you know here? These are all great ways to get a feel for who your networking partner is and what their motivations are.
2. What do you do? Or, what is your profession? Remember: the more curious you are, the easier it will be for others to perceive that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. People like people who take the time to listen to them.
3. How did you get into your profession? Another angle to take is to ask them what their deciding factors were. These are the top 3-5 reasons why they do what they do.
4. What do you enjoy most (and least) about what you do? Who knows, maybe you’ll find you have something in common! Remember, the goal of these question is to find common ground that you can build a relationship on, and understanding your networking partner’s situation is key.
5. What changes have you seen in your industry/profession? This question allows them to show their expertise in a respectful manner. You’ll make them feel important, and in turn, they’ll look at you as more than just a passing conversation partner.
6. What do you see as the coming trends, challenges, and opportunities in your field? This is another version of question five and is equally, if not more, compelling. It challenges them to think critically and meaningfully about what they do.
7. What roles do you know/forsee a demand of talent for in your industry? This is an especially important question if you’re thinking about entering your networking partner’s industry. Getting an insider’s insights is an amazing way to set yourself up for success.
8. What advice would you give to someone starting in your profession? Even if you’re not targeting their profession, asking other people for advice is a great way to show that you respect their opinion and are interested in what they have to say.
9. What would you say are the core qualities that make someone an ideal fit for your organization/profession? Your networking partner’s answer to this can reveal a lot about their organization’s company culture. If you’re targeting their organization, information like this will be key to your success.
10. What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies/interests? It’s important to have a healthy mix of business-related and casual questions. Talking about your professional life for the duration of a networking event can get tiring, so you’re sure to be remembered if you’re the person who actively tries to go beyond surface level conversation.
What are your go-to networking questions? Let me know in the comments section!