How did you learn of this meeting?
Are you a “first timer” or have you been here before?
What brings you back to this meeting? (If they’re not a “first timer”.)
What are some of the other benefits?
Do you have a target market? If so, why? If not, why not?
Who are you ultimately looking to meet?
What professions are in the best position to refer you business?
How do you market your business?
What other groups do you attend?
How will you know if you had a great meeting today?
What do you do for fun outside of work?
How can I help you? (If I happen to like them!)
Hey, these questions aren’t the end all and be all, but they are for me. Of course, in a discussion, if other questions come to mind, I simply ask them. Remember, this is not a fixed set of questions that might be asked in a job interview. There is no set order and not every question is going to be appropriate. Come up with questions that make sense and work for you!
Did you notice that the questions I suggested above are open-ended and about the other person? They’re not designed to “fact find” or “size them up” as prospects. (“So, do you have a financial advisor?”)
Of course, don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about an industry, profession, company, or advice you may be seeking. That’s a big part of networking!
Often, I ask people questions that I would love to be asked of me. In fact, when I ask an interesting question, it’s fun to be asked, “How about yourself?”
Before attending your next cocktail party, association meeting, chamber mixer, conference, convention, trade show, study group, golf outing, networking function, or even your next business meeting, prepare questions ahead of time that would make you interesting, interested, and smarter.
Remember the goal is to make a great connection, develop important relationships, and avoid the use of the “annoying sound” button.
And don’t lead with the bumper sticker question.