Effective Networking Questions

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By Gail Stolzenburg

Networking is the single most effective strategy used in building your business. So when you are at one of the networking events, what do you say when you meet someone for the first time?  Most people will tell you to have a good ‘elevator pitch’.  Dale Carnegie’s advice was to spend 70 percent of the time listening and the other 30 percent asking questions.  Show a genuine interest.  A great communication technique is a term called ‘focused attention’.  First, make sure the person is willing to talk with you.  If not, go on to the next person.

We have all heard the acronym FORM – family, occupation, recreation, and mission (or money).  When we start asking those questions, people sense you are following a script.  Consider asking these open ended questions, and remember, the sweetest sound to someone is their name so use it often and at least five times.  Besides, it will help you remember it for the next time you meet.

Everyone asks, “What do you do?”  Next, include their name and ask, “(Their name goes here)”, “How did you get involved in your business?”, “How long have you been in that business?”, “What did you do before?”, “What do you like best about what you do?”, “What is your biggest challenge?”, and “Where else do you network?”.

Those questions show that you have a sincere interest in their business and allow you to ask more probing questiong like, “What advice would you give to someone starting in your business?”, “What is one thing you could do today that would make a major difference in your success?”, “What significant changes have you seen in the industy?”,  “What trends do you see coming?”, and “What is your unique selling proposition?”.

Then you can get more into their personal life with, “What do you do when you have nonworking time?”, “Is you family involved with those activities?”, “Where did go to school?”, and “Have you lived in Houston all your life?”

And finally ask, “When I meet someone else, what questions would I ask them to see if they might be interested in your business?”

If you have determined there are ways you can help each other, set up a time for coffee or lunch by asking, “It sounds like we have a lot in common.  Would it be possible to get together next week for coffee and see how we can help each other build our businesses?”  Set the date and time. Then give them a gift such as some networking tips or a list of networking events they might like to attend. And, remember to send them a “Thank You” note.

By helping others develop their business, you will develop mutually beneficial relationships that may last a lifetime.

So, ask questions, listen, and be interested instead of interesting.

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Gail “The Connector” Stolzenburg’s new book,CONNECTIONS:  Contacts to Clients”, was just released.  For more information, Gail can be contacted by phone at 281-493-1955, by email at Gail@GailStolzenburg.com, or visit his website at www.GailStolzenburg.com

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