Figuring out the right questions to ask at networking events may be a difficult task. Try to ask questions that will ensure a quality conversation with your interlocutor. Avoid asking close-ended, yes/no questions. It will get you nowhere and can often lead to awkward silences.
Keep in mind that people are selfish beings who love talking about themselves, so ask questions that will allow them to do that. By doing this, you will build and grow better relationships with your new contacts, as well as, the people you have already met before.
Here is a list of the top questions that will be useful in establishing a good connection with someone who seems to have nothing in common with you.
1. How did you start your career in that position?
Career success stories are often very interesting and recounting them will enliven your new contact more than any other straightforward discussion about his/her current business. Try and learn something from their answer, too! It might help you in the future.
2. Can you please describe your ideal customer?
This question will provide you with valuable information about their motivation and goals. It’s also good to know in case you want to refer business to them. Plus, if you give them a new customer, and they might do the same for you.
3. What are the major changes that are happening within your industry? / What changes can you predict within your industry?
Questions like these will give both you and the person you’re speaking with, a totally different perspective on how they see things. It makes you look sharp, but also gives you ideas on any changes in the industry or things you should be doing different.
4. What is your greatest achievement in business?
This is another simple and sophisticated way to break the ice and get to know your new contact. It allows them to gloat a little. Keep in mind that regardless of how egotistical the person is, you can always learn something new.
5. What do you love about your work most of all?
Describing favorite activities will enliven them, and most likely you’ll get a smile from it. Sometimes we get caught up in the word “work” and forget that work can be fun. This question helps keep the conversation positive.
6. Are there things you would like to change?
This is a logical follow-up from the previous question. Most of the time you may not even have to ask this, as most people will automatically go into this. But if not, it’s always good to ask.
7. Where do you see yourself in the industry for the future?
This question allows your new business contact to discuss his/her deeper aspirations. You’ll also get a glimpse into how they think, which is important to pay attention to in case you ever become business partners.
All of these questions will help you hold an enjoyable conversation, ensuring that your new contact will remember you and most probably want to work with you in the future.
If you think we have missed other good questions, please feel free to share them in our comments section.