Questions You Should Always Ask While Networking
When you finally enter the workforce, you understand the benefit of forming connections and establishing a personal network of professionals. But how do you
create a network when you haven’t had much practice striking a friendly conversation?
Sure, it’s a little hard to meet new people, but these professionals give us 7 of the best networking questions to use:
1. “What Brings You Here?”
Author Michelle Tillis Lederman tells us this is a great way to break the ice. “This question shows you are interested in the other person and are not just trying to figure out how they can help you.”
Hearing a person’s reply will help give insight into their mindset. You’ll become well aware of the way you can add value to their network. Showing an interest in a person’s work focus will give them perspective on how you can become an important part of their business circle.
Both of you have the opportunity to share your current work objectives. Finding common ground may help you both work more efficiently.
2. “How Did You Get Involved In The Industry/Company?”
Everyone’s story starts somewhere, so why not ask about what steered the person towards their current position. You’ll find out more about an individual’s personal employment quest, providing insight and perspective not gained otherwise.
Lars Herrem, Group Executive Director at Nigel Wright Group, says, “Finding out more about their journey leading up to their current role can offer an excellent insight into what you might need to do in order to work in that industry, role or company.”
Your enthusiasm and interest in others are guaranteed to make sure people remember you, providing network opportunities in the future.
3. “Since You Work In The Industry, How Do You Feel About X?”
Depending on the subject you bring up, you may get one or more reactions at the mention of something specific. Being informed of the biggest events in the industry will leave others with a lasting impression of your perceptive insight.
“…Demonstrate how you think and what you know about the marketplace…” clarifies Eli Howayeck, “This helps direct the conversation and informs your conversation partner that you know what you’re talking about, or at least pay attention.”
If your gut instincts tell you the details of an event may be important later on, learn as much as you can, in case a conversation about it comes up. You’ll be thankful you didn’t miss the smaller details.
4. “How Would Someone Get Their Foot In The door In Your Company/Industry?”
Networking doesn’t simply provide you with the opportunity to hire for jobs that need more sets of hands. You are also building upon a foundation of professionals that can benefit you in a future job hunt.
Just because the opportunity is there doesn’t mean you should simply shout out the question “Any positions open?”
Asking this way, according to career coach Madelyn Mackie, “is a subtle way to ask about the opportunities without coming right out and saying, ‘Do you know if they are hiring?’”
5. “Based On Your Journey, What Do You Wish Someone Would Have Told You Earlier In Your Career?”
This is the kind of question you asked the most seasoned employees of their respective industries. It gives veterans of the industry the chance to pass on their vast knowledge to others, as well as stroking their ego.
“People are way more comfortable sharing their wisdom than they are sharing their contacts, and both can be very valuable,” expresses Howayeck. “Seeking to learn from others honors them and shows that you’re invested in growth.”
Don’t assume the employee manual can teach you everything. Sometimes you need the help of an industry veteran.
6. “How Do You Spend Your Time Outside Of Work?”
The toughest part of networking is forming the initial connections with people. Once that’s out of the way, some casual conversation may be in order. Asking this shows a person that you are not all about the business, but are also interested in them as a person.
“This kind of question lowers the stakes and also gives the other person a chance to discuss what they’re passionate about…”
7. “What’s The Best Way For Me To Get In Touch/Follow Up With You?”
Regardless of the great memory you believe you possess, gather as much contact info as you possibly can.
“Beginning networkers often make the mistake of giving away a stack of business cards but gathering none.”
Bruno states that asking this shows you view the person as a human, and not a stepping stone to further your career.