Question mark with man

Great Opening Question

A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. When you meet someone in a networking environment you should ‘listen’ more than you ‘talk’ (especially if it is the first time you’ve met). Consequently, in books like The 29% Solution and Networking Like a Pro, I’ve written a lot about the kinds of questions you should ask when you meet someone for the first time.

Recently, I was at a networking event and, at the end of the conversation, someone asked me a question that no one has ever asked me before at a networking meeting. She asked, “What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you today?”

I love that question because it is so positive and unique.  It made me stop focusing on anything other than the question at hand and required me to be completely present in the moment because I truly had to think about what the greatest thing was that had happened in my day so far.  At the time, I shared what came to mind with the woman who asked me the question.  However, it’s interesting to note that today, many months later, what I remember most is that question . . . not whatever “amazing” thing happened to me that day.

If you have a great opening question, I’d love to hear it. In the comments section, share a stand-out question that you, or someone you’ve met, has asked at a networking event.

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30 replies
  1. Kennon Fort
    Kennon Fort says:

    Great post! I am a big fan of networking myself and have begun to position myself to facilitate networking events later this spring. The question I’ve been using the most is best asked upon getting a one’s business card and flipping it over to write down a few short notes of their responses to you. Often the sequence begins by saying to the other person, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m very interested in you and your business.” Then comes the question, “How can I or those in my network help you with your biggest problem or challenge you’re facing today?” After recording a few short notes on the back of their card, it also proves worthwhile to follow-up with them the next day. By then, you’ve built up a great sense of reciprocity such that they will want to help you!

  2. Ann Vertel
    Ann Vertel says:

    I like to ask, “What is the next big thing you are looking forward to?” or “What do you do for fun?”
    On occasion I will ask a married woman, “How did your husband propose?” (they always smile and love telling that story)
    I ask couples, “So, how did you two meet?” (they always smile, then look at each other and laugh, and then take turns filling in the details of the story).

  3. Sheldon Penner
    Sheldon Penner says:

    I love it when networking focus on the other person rather then myself. I am just now reading (listening) Bob Burg’s book “Endless Referrals: and the “Go-Giver” and he has some great questions in there to ask the other person.

  4. Alice Heiman
    Alice Heiman says:

    In Reno, I ask, “What do you love most about living in Reno.” If I am talking to salespeople I like to ask, “How did you choose sales as a career?” and for small business owners, ” How did you get started in that business?”

  5. Linda Ryan
    Linda Ryan says:

    My favorite (and, I believe, very effective) networking question comes from Bob Burg’s “Endless Referrals.” HOW CAN I KNOW IF SOMEONE I’M TALKING TO WOULD BE A GOOD CLIENT FOR YOU?”

  6. Magadhi Bam
    Magadhi Bam says:

    Coincidentally, that is one of my fav questions too to ask while networking : HOW CAN I KNOW IF SOMEONE I’M TALKING TO WOULD BE A GOOD CLIENT FOR YOU?”: and the other question I would normally ask is , WHAT IS THE ONE BEST THING YOU LIKED ABOUT TODAYS MEETING ? Both these questions leave the person on a positive note and they are excited to tell you how they feel !!!

  7. Mindy Bohannon
    Mindy Bohannon says:

    I like to ask them “If you hadn’t decided to come to this event, where would you be, what would you be doing instead?” Time is precious and its good to hear what else they value.

    KEN CHIN ( MALAYSIA) says:

    Life’s questions are at times better than all the solutions we can get . To have a question in response to a question brings more value to the person asking it or to the person at the other end of the question .That’s why the question ,’What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you today?’ packs so much VALUE in it. Cheers

    • Jason @ REI Capital
      Jason @ REI Capital says:

      Her is one that I’ve been experimenting with and have had some great success with lately…

      “What did you do last weekend?”

      I’ve found people are taken by surprise however LOVE to talk about this… Typically what people do on weekends is what they are truly passionate about.

      You can then quickly identify and relate with almost anyone and find out what is MOST important to them. Try it.

  9. Stewart Male
    Stewart Male says:

    What do you like most about what you do ? … and after of course … dislike ? … the dislike comments list can be a great refferal assist !

  10. duarte cardoso
    duarte cardoso says:

    What´s your name, and what really you?
    In my recente experience of BNI, people i´ve repair that people don´t really no your name and what you really do. That´s a simple question, and very open one.

  11. Eileen
    Eileen says:

    I enjoy looking directly into their eyes and asking them How are they and also How can I in particular be of service to you this week?
    Have also asked them what their favorite colors are or best family vacations…

  12. Marilyn Corazza
    Marilyn Corazza says:

    What a great blog! I also enjoyed reading the responses and additional questions that people ask during networking events. One of my favorite things to ask is, “What’s your passion today?”

  13. Angie
    Angie says:

    HI Dr. Misner,
    I like to ask people, “What is your favorite place you’ve ever been?”
    It reconnects people with a positive memory, and I get to learn about the next places I might like to visit (as well as something about the person’s values and motivation based on what they share).
    Thanks for the pondering.


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