Let’s face it, the typical ‘networking events script’ can be both predictable and dreary.

  • “So, what do you does your company do then?”
  • “And what’s your role?”
  • “do you come here often?”

Well, maybe not the last one. But you get the picture.

Of course, these are important questions. In previous webinars, I’ve talked about how people like to pigeon-holing you when they meet you by what you do. But these questions, and their respective answers, should be seen as the bare minimum of a conversation. Anyone truly looking to get more from networking or maybe even enjoy it, should think about what else they can ask.

Before I crack on with my personal favourites I wanted to point out two things about networking:

  1. It’s about more than just meeting people. It’s about starting a relationship.
  2. It’s about business.

So any questions you intend using must both show an interest in the other person and must be business focused or a short step away from business focussed. Without further adieu here are my favourite three questions for moving out of the small-talk zone into the business zone (where you need to be).

1. What’s going well for you at the moment?

People like to share their successes, never forget how many of the younger generations suffer from imposter syndrome. So the chance to affirm their competence will rarely be passed up.

The beauty of this question is what it reveals, namely how the person you’re speaking with want’s to be perceived. This can be extremely useful for gauging how you approach them in the future and with more immediate follow-up questions.

Tip: if they answer whats going well for the company then ask what part they played. you can’t build a relationship with a business, just the people in it.

2. And what’s the next big challenge for you?”

Did you know that if you ask this question first 67% of people will deny they have any challenges at all? Ask it after question 1 and there only too happy to share. The temptation is always to leap in the second you see a possible sales connection but this is a mistake. People like feeling you have a genuine interest in them but leaping into a sales pitch after 10 seconds doesn’t convey that message.

Tip: before moving onto question 3, explore their challenge. What they are planning to do to overcome it? What changes they need to make for it to be overcome? What will it mean to them as a person?

3. We worked with a client who had a very similar challenge. I can’t tell you the detail, of course, but would you like to hear what we did?

This one only works if you have got a connection who has faced a similar challenge. So long as you do then everybody wants to know how somebody else tackled a problem that they have. We all seek ready-made solutions and the more difficult or overwhelming the problem, the more the desire for someone to copy.

Ths questions strength is the avenues it gives for follow up connection. If you can offer further insight, an introduction or just to find out a bit more and relay it then offer to take a card and get in touch.

Tip: If you don’t know someone, make an offer to see if your network has ever faced the issue before. It’s a double whammy as you get to speak with your new contact again to feedback and  by asking your contacts for help you treat them as experts. Everyone likes feeling respected.

So, there you have it. Three questions you can ask to get the conversation onto topics of importance and business. Try them out the next few events you go to and let me know what happens.