This is the third in my series about networking. Now that you have the keys to researching your networking targets, and know the fundamentals, you need to consider what to ask when you meet them! The number one thing to remember when networking is that most people have a favorite topic of discussion – themselves!
GL Hoffman had some useful advice at his blog, What Would Dad Say?:
It truly is not about you. It is more about the other person. Ask questions, find their interesting story, learn from them, ask advice. Strive for a conversation that is 25% you, 75% them.
Remember your manners. Smile a lot. Say please and thank you. Hold doors open. Make eye contact. Say “and” more than you say “but.” Be positive. These are the things your mom taught you.
These are great launching off points to consider before thinking of what to ask at an informational meeting.
Don’t forget that it’s important to assess what you want to know! There is nothing worse than having a meeting and walking away without accomplishing your goals. So, have some goals!
Need help learning what to say when networking?
Find tips and scripts for in-person and online networks in my new book:
100 Conversations for Career Success
Figure out what you need to know about the organization or the person – things that you cannot find out by a quick Google search. Consider asking about the person’s (or organization’s) values, important skills needed to work there and about how they do business. Ask the nuanced questions you want to know. For example:
- What are your biggest challenges? (Or those impacting your field/company/organization?)
- What is the best (and worst) part of your job?
- What would you do differently (if anything) if you were starting over in your field?
At the same time, in case you have a contact who likes to ask a lot of questions, be sure that you can also discuss your unique qualities – your unique selling proposition.
- What are YOUR skills.
- Why are you interested in this field or organization?
- What do YOU have to offer?
Be sure to bring along your resume, just in case your networking contact asks for it, or if you have an opportunity to ask for input and advice.
In the long run, what exactly you ask is less important than HOW you ask it and how well prepared you appear. It is really true that you have one chance to make a first impression…Be interested and interesting and you won’t have to worry!
Feel free to share your great question ideas and success stories in the comments!
photo by leo reynolds