Build your network faster with smarter questions
Networking can be a waste of time or it can be very profitable. What determines the difference? You - and how you approach the science of networking. To build a more profitable network you need to understand and master the power of questioning. Networking without good questioning is doomed to failure.
Follow these three ways to improve your questioning skills:
1. Prepare and ask good questions of others.
2. Anticipate and prepare for questions.
3. Ask yourself questions.
Prepare and ask good questions
Good questions will help you to better identify and target the prime prospects that you want in your network. Questions with purpose will move you faster to your goals then idle gossip. Good questions asked well will engage your networking contacts in interesting conversation.
Engaging conversation will make them think. It might make them laugh. It will help them remember you because we tend to remember interesting people. And it will help them to help you better because they will better understand your needs and mindset.
Good questions demonstrate forethought. Good questions don't happen by accident. Don't try to wing it. Networking will required a significant investment of your time. Networking done well can be very profitable for you. Why would you wing anything so important?
Anticipate and prepare for questions
If you were summoned to a job interview you would think about and prepare answers to the questions you think you will be asked. Consider every networking event as a job interview. Think about, anticipate and prepare good answers for the questions you might be asked.
Don't be like the financial planner I met at a networking event. She had a catchy opening line. Then I asked her about what books she based her investment philosophy upon or might recommend. Her halting reply was that she did not support any of the books out there. What a ridiculous answer. She immediately lost all credibility with me. That ended the conversation as I dismissed her. Her only networking tool was a clever opening line but her inability to answer my question demonstrated lack of planning and thus a useless networking contact.
Ask yourself questions
This type of question is the most important to the success of your networking. While planning your networking strategy ask yourself about your purpose, assumptions and expectations.
What do you want your networking to do for you? How will you make your networking as productive as possible? What are you willing to invest (time, thought and money) in your networking activities to enjoy the best return on your investment? How will you improve your networking skills? How will you learn the science of networking? Who are the difference types of contacts that you want in your network? How will you identify them and nurture those relationships?
Become a master of smart questions
Some networkers are afraid of questions. Why? Maybe they have something to hide. Maybe they are afraid to grow. People who want to grow are learners and learners are people who ask good questions. Albert Einstein continually asked difficult questions of others and especially of himself. Einstein would have been an incredibly effective networker.
Be aware of the myth that “there are no dumb questions”. In fact there are many dumb questions - so think and prepare smart questions. “How's business?” is a dumb question. “What's new?” is a dumb networking question.
You can get better networking results when you ask smarter questions.