The most effective person at a networking event is not the best connected. It's nor the richest. Or the person with the biggest business. It's the most curious.
Being genuinely curious will generate the conversation, referrals and introductions that'll make your networking work.
"Hi, I'm….., what's your name? What company are you from?"
Ok, you've done that. Now what.
The questions you ask in this moment can be the difference between you leaving the event with a good or bad experience.
If you ask the right ones, you'll leave less likely viewing it as a waste of time. It avoids the possibility of having to speak to someone about their friend's cat or the weather for the week ahead.
Networking should be considered a skill. Like any skill, the more you do it, the better you become. But also like any skill, if you keep doing the same things, you'll get the same results.
Part of that is asking the right questions to stimulate effective conversation. You'll make it more constructive for you. As well as your fellow attendees.
Be prepared. Have these up your sleeve. Set yourself up for networking success.
N.B. These questions are on the presumption you're what we call a 'good networker'. Open minded. Willing to help people and make introductions where you see fit. With a long-term view and approach to networking.
1. Who are you here to meet or looking for introductions to?
People like to help. It's human nature. Good networkers will be happy to make appropriate recommendations and introductions. They know it'll be reciprocated down the line.
This question allows people to be specific. Ask if there's a particular industry. Size of business. Position within a company.
If the answer is "anyone". Ask for examples of their work and how they've helped others.
Approach with the mindset of becoming a key person of influence. Someone who connects people. In my years of running Network My Club, these are the people that succeed and get the most out of their networking in the long term.
2. What problem do you solve?
A much more effective way of asking, "So, what do you do?".
This helps not just get a clear understanding of what they do, but exactly how they help people. They're likely to give away pain points they ease for others. As well as insight into triggers that you can listen out for to help that person down the line.
Think about how you would answer this question too.
3. How did you get started in your industry?
This is a more personal and reflective question. But one that will likely prompt an insight into their motivations, background or journey.
So, they're my three. Some of my go to's.
These are great to have up your sleeve when in group conversations too. They're purposeful. It opens the conversation up for everyone to learn about one another.
The person that can get an inclusive conversation going is a valuable commodity to any event.
Be curious. Be genuine. It'll work in the long run. It's the culture we build at Network My Club.
Are you the most curious? What question would you add or do you use? What have you heard that has stimulated effective conversation?