Knowing these 4 networking questions can save you. For example, you meet a total stranger at a networking event. After introducing yourself you ask, “What do you do for a living?” Then, after a brief answer, you stare awkwardly at each other until one of you excuses yourself from the conversation by saying you need a refreshment, the restroom, or you’re heading over to the fire escape. Rather than running for cover, how about coming to the event prepared with 4 networking questions, categories of questions really, that will inspire conversation, help you network, and connect you to others – even strangers.

4 Questions For In Person or Virtual Events

  1. What brought you to this event?

Knowing why someone attended an event can help inform you of their needs and wants. It’s also an excellent conversation starter, but be ready to jump to the number two question at any time. Here are some other ways to ask the first question.

  • How did you hear about the event?
  • Who recommended this event to you?
  • May I ask how you prepare to attend an event such as this?
  • What advice would you offer on attending networking events?
  1. How can I help you?

Number two is my number one go-to question. How I ask the question varies by the event and who I’m talking to. Here are a few of those variations.

  • What did you hope to take-away from this event?
  • What person, company, or industry would you like to be introduced to?
  • Where does your organization need help?
  • What’s your most urgent need?
  1. What are your thoughts?

Again, depending on the event and the individual, you could ask this multiple ways. For example:

  • What do you think of the event?
  • Who have you met that impressed you?
  • What seminars or break-out sessions are a must-see?
  • Tell me your favorite thing so far?
  • What take-aways are tops on your list?
  1. What’s the best advice you can give me?

Regardless of the perspective, this can be an excellent conversation starter. If you’re new to an industry and talking to someone experienced, it’s a no-brainer, but it works the other way as well. An experienced person can ask those newer to the profession their advice for helping novices.

  • What do you wish someone had told you when you were new to the job?
  • What’s the biggest pitfall you’d tell someone to avoid?
  • How can I best prepare for the challenges of the industry?
  • What trends do you see impacting your industry?

4 questions, 17 variations, and Unlimited Possibilities

Instead of looking for the darkest corner to hide, muting your screen, or spending the entire evening with an acquaintance, you met once at another event, next time, come prepared. Here’s why these four networking questions work.

People want to talk about themselves: Whether the conversation is about them personally or their business, people like to talk about what they’re doing. All of these questions are designed to allow others to share.

Open-ended questions create conversation: Rather than closed in yes/no or leading questions, open-ended questions require more thoughtful answers.

Before your next event, memorize these four questions, jot them on a piece of paper, or leave a note on your device. Keep it simple, ask what brought them to the event, how you can help, and ask for their thoughts and advice. And then be prepared to vary questions to fit the situation. You got this, and it sure beats hiding in the shadows at your next event.

If you enjoyed this post you might like How to ask Questions for Understanding.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

I’d always considered myself an effective networker. I’m friendly, easy to talk to, and I’ve never met a stranger. However, none of that makes me a good networker – it makes me outgoing. If I wanted to be the most effective networker I could be, I needed a plan. That’s how my networking workbook, Help Networking started.

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