“Why do you attend networking events?”
Find out what your contact’s goal is in attending these networking events by being direct and asking him or her. This question can be used to find out if there’s potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between the two of you. Pass along a reference. At its core, networking is about finding new contacts that can eventually be of good use for your professional development, so don’t be nervous about asking contacts what the reason they attend events.
“Any recommendations for industry events or conferences?”
Are you in the same industry as your new contact? Ask for any recommendations on which industry events or conferences you should attend. This question is especially effective when you’re either switching career paths or just beginning your career and haven’t established yourself within the industry yet. Find out which events are worth it and which are a waste from someone who’s been down the same road before with this simple question.
“What do you love most about what you do?”
Networking isn’t just about making a professional connection, but also making a personal connection. One way to do that is by asking new contacts what they love most about their profession. This question goes beyond hearing about what they do and how long they’ve been doing it and goes into their passions and motivations in life, something that creates a deeper bond.
Something off the cuff.
After you’ve gone through all the basic questions, it’s always best to ask your new contact a random question that lets you learn a little bit more about them. Feel out the conversation for clues on their personality and then come up with something creative to ask that will throw them off guard. Some networking experts recommend asking new contacts what their favorite reality TV show is or asking them to share a funny on-the-job story. These questions may not come in the beginning of the conversation, but they still act as icebreakers, giving you an opportunity to learn something new about your contact. Plus, they work wonders when it comes to following up after an event. Let’s say someone tells you a long and hilarious story about a guy who embarrassed himself at the office Christmas party. When you prepare your follow-up with your new contact, throw in something in the beginning along the lines of “Still laughing about that Christmas party story!”
What questions do you tend to ask most at networking events? What questions do you wish more people asked you at these events? Tell us in the comments below!