My good friend, networking expert Bob Burg, has 10 questions he personally uses when networking that he believes every networker should memorize.
Bob explains that these questions are not designed to be probing or sales-oriented in any way; they are all friendly, fun to answer, and will tell you something about the way the person answering them thinks. You’ll never need or have the time to ask all 10 questions during any one conversation but, still, you should internalize them. Know them well enough that you are able to ask the ones you deem appropriate for the particular conversation and time frame.
Here are the 10 questions:
1. How did you get started in the (______) business?
2. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
3. What separates you and your company from the competition?
4. What advice would you give someone just starting out in the (______) business?
5. What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
7. What do you see as the coming trends in the (______) business?
8. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?
9. What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?
10. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?
Like Bob says, you’re not going to get to ask more than a few of these questions during an initial conversation, so don’t worry about sounding like you’re conducting an interrogation. These are feel-good questions people enjoy answering, and they are meant to establish an initial rapport. So next time you’re at a networking event, try using a few of these questions and then come back and leave a comment about how using them worked out for you; I’m more than willing to bet you’ll be pleased with the results.