The Big W- Who, What, When, Where, Why. These 5 words are used by children more times a day than adults, ask any parent and they will tell you. A Newsweek article from 2010, The Creativity Crisis, says “Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day.”
Basically, it’s curiosity that drives them and they don’t stop until they get the answer they want. The same technique works at a networking event, and the same 5 words that we used as children work as well today as they did then.
Here are 5 questions to ask to get the conversation going and keep your new connection engaged.
- Just out of curiosity, Why do you attend networking events? Have you ever notice the body language of someone when you ask a question? When you start a conversation with “Just out of curiosity” notice how most people will move in towards you. That’s because, by merely using the word curiosity, you have spiked their curiosity and now they’re listening and you’ve got their attention. This question is also a comfortable question to get them talking. You’re both at a networking event , so obviously it is something you both have in common and it gives you the bottom line on the real reason they are there.
- Where else do you network? This question is good for a novice or a professional networker. If someone says that they really don’t do allot of networking because they don’t know of many other groups, you can be the knight in shining armor and invite them to other events you go to. If they start rattling off a list of other groups listen for the ones you attend, you may very well have common ground in finding that you know many of the same people and very well learn of a few other group you may like to attend.
- What do you like best about what you do? This is one of my favorite questions because it’s really 2 questions in one. What do you like best about what you do also answers the question “So what do you do?” This question, unlike the same old, What do you do, gets people in conversation mode rather than just giving you a short answer.
- When did you get started in that direction? This gives your new contact a chance to tell a story and people love telling stories, especially when the story is about themselves.
- Who can I help you meet? Now that you know what your new contact is all about, this is your opportunity to show them that you care and will be a valuable addition to their network. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Listen for the types of people they want to meet that you can introduce them to later or maybe even at that very same event.
So, why should you use these very specific questions? Have you ever notice that the very questions you ask someone are the same questions they ask of you? This is a way for you to give them your story because they will most likely ask you the very same questions and now they truly want to know.
it is very important that you stay on topic during conversation, and listen attentively. The information your new contact is giving you is very important to them and if your fidgeting and trying to get a word in it will show that you are not truly interested and you just want to give them your pitch. Learn to listen twice as much as you speak and the results will amaze you.
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Thomas Camarda is a professional networker, expert in his field, and speaks at networking events and seminars nationally. Thomas offers Networking training, both one-on-one or for your Networking Group.
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