Do you attend networking events? Do you find yourself struggling to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger? Are you unsure about what questions to ask? Do you find yourself spending more time having off topic conversations and not enough time sourcing the right people? In this article I am going to share with you 3 simple questions to ask at a networking event.
Being an entrepreneur or a business development (sales) professional can be very stressful. The high quotas, the pressures, the long drives, the long days, endless phone calls and emails, and then on top of the already long days you must attend the local chamber or meetup event to hopefully drum up some new business.
There are a lot of moving parts to being a small business owner or sales professional, networking or social events should be the fun part. You are not a business owner or sales professional if you do not have leads, networking events are a great way to connect with new prospects and hopefully meet some like-minded individuals. Do you often find yourself unsure about what questions to ask someone you just met at an event? Do you struggle with social anxiety? Do not worry, you certainly are not alone.
I recall the very first networking event I went to as a sales professional. It was a disaster. I think I had more Jack and Cokes than I did conversations. Liquid courage was not on my side that night. After several more events and failed attempts to have any productive kind of conversations, I was trying to think of any other way to meet people and hopefully gather some new business opportunities.
Something I learned very early on was people love talking about themselves. They love telling you that “funny story” about how they landed in their current role. People naturally tend to word vomit rather than listen. How can you use what I just shared above to help you have more impactful conversation and build rapport with complete strangers?
Here are 3 questions you can ask anyone you meet:
1. How did you get into your industry?
2. What is something new and exciting you are working on?
3. How do you see that playing out over the next 3-5 years?
Yup, those are it, that simple.
A few questions or topics I try and stay away from:
1. How long have you been working at so and so company?
Be intentional about the conversations you are having. Be genuinely interested or don’t ask questions. Be mindful of how much time you are spending with the same person or group of people during an event. Remember you are there to find the right people, have impactful conversations, and hopefully spark a conversation with the right person to add into your CRM as a prospect.
Be aware too. If you see someone that has great personal presence, or what I like to call “owning the room” go up to that person and talk with them. Ask them questions. Heck even ask them for some help about how to be a better networker. Most of the time the best business owners or sales professionals with gladly give you advice and guidance.
If you have any questions about networking or sales, feel free to reach out. I love having conversation with like-minded individuals, because I always learn something from those I am speaking with.