Because networking is the #1 way people find new jobs and advance their careers, in my last post I offered Five Ways to Improve Your Career Networking Results. One of the strategies I mentioned was to insure that the other person speaks more than you as this tends to build rapport faster and insure you don’t dominate conversations. A second strategy I suggested was to make effective requests for action. Both of these strategies can successfully implemented by asking useful questions.
Let’s start with the first strategy… getting the other person to talk more than you. Sometimes this can be challenging, especially if your companion is not much of a talker. The good news is that asking useful questions can save you from awkward silences and from monopolizing the conversation. Here are a few ideas for formulating helpful general questions:
- If you were introduced by someone, start by asking the person something related to the introducer, such as “How long have you known Sandra?” or “What did Sandra tell you about me?”.
- If you were not introduced and don’t know the person, then you can rely on open-ended situational questions to get the ball rolling, such as “What are you hoping to get out of this meeting?” for a networking or industry/professional meeting or “What campus activities were you involved in?” for a college alumni meeting. Just try to avoid questions that can be answers with “yes” or “no” answers.
Now, consider the second strategy… making effective requests for action. The example I suggested in my last blog was “Who do you know in any of my companies of interest? Would you be willing to make a personal introduction of me to them?” This is a home run question to consider when you feel you have developed enough rapport and trust to ask directly for the introduction(s) you desire. Leading up to this, a question that models the action you desire from them might be “Who would be good people for you to meet? Perhaps I may know someone who would be helpful for you.”
Questions can be powerful tools for building rapport and gaining introductions during your career networking. I hope you will find new ways to utilize them to have more useful conversations and achieve your career desires.