The Top 3 Questions You Could Ever Ask At A Networking Event

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I used to absolutely hate going to networking events.  Back in college, my professors would always emphasize networking being a key player in creating success.  Now, I am the first to admit that there may have been just the slightest chance that I may have not been the model college student.  And sure, my nonchalant attitude was probably the number one reason why I flat out didn’t understand the science of networking.  But my professors insisted and of course I would give it a shot.

I attended a few while I was still in school, but really those were career fairs and a small slice of my life where I was desperately looking for job.  I would hand the recruiter a resume then checked out.  Generally, I was just unsatisfied with life in general.  Everything I was learning in school did not peak my interest at all.  That is when I discovered that entrepreneurship was my destiny.

Welcome To The Big Leagues

Business networking events to me were the big leagues.  I am meeting serious professionals and business owners who will help me create my empire.  Although, there was one problem.  What do you do at networking events?  It always felt as if I had a hidden agenda.  The idea of selling someone my product always swirled in the back of my mind.  Let me remind you I just started a direct sales business at the time which I am now retired from.  Nevertheless, my sales training taught me it was just a numbers game where I couldn’t erase the imaginary dollar sign I stamped on their foreheads.

Don’t Vomit On My Shoes

When trying to stay tuned into a conversation, my thoughts were completely absorbed in what I would say next. This kept me from truly understanding the point they were trying to make.  If only I can get more words in about my product, I can surely convince them to buy from me.  I mean shoot, I can close anyone.  I was the one selling ketchup Popsicle’s to the women in the white gloves.

The best thing that we can all understand is that no one cares about your product or service.  No matter how great you think it is, no one cares.  They care that you care can improve their life or move them closer to where they want to me.  This means not vomiting information about your product all over people.  Why?  Because no one cares!

Networking Events Suck

When all was said and done, I would reflect on the events only to think to myself, “this sucks, I didn’t make any sales.  Networking events suck.”  At that time, obviously, I didn’t understand to concept of brand equity.  So how does this young buck go from a pitiful networker to attending live networking events almost once a week and co-creating a successful local monthly networking event?  I think the world may be ready for me to release my super secret ninja networking tactics.  Here it is.  I care about people. That’s it. Do you care about people?  If you don’t you will be a crappy networker.  Just saying.

No Hidden Agendas

I truly care about the people I am connecting with. It is not about me and how much business I can bring in.  In fact, that is the furthest thing from my mind. The big realization was that when you go into these networking events with a hidden agenda other than building relationships, you lose big time. Really, it’s true. People can sniff the pitchman out in the crowd and you will find yourself standing alone in the corner like the dunce. I recommend not going into a networking event when you are desperately seeking money either.  You are most likely setting yourself up for a disappointment.

Who Do You Buy From?

The purpose of networking events is to build relationships to do business with each other.  Sounds simple right?  You may be shocked know how many people don’t understand this.  People buy from people they know, like and trust. The exception is if it is their idea to buy.

Much of what I know I learned from my friend and networking sensei Bob Burg, who authored an outstanding book entitled Endless Referrals.  And if you are having trouble finding events to attend in your area, I wrote an article that can help you pinpoint upcoming events in your local area.

One final note for you.  The three questions below are not the equivalent of a script.  Don’t walk into a event with this printed out in hand and asking these questions from the list.  You have to be in the natural flow of conversation before these questions come into play.  You may want to find out their name and occupation first and ask something like “what brings you down to the event?”.  Here’s the juicy stuff.

1. The Movie Star

“How did you get started in the ‘worm farm’ business?”

halle berry hollywood star 1737 300x225 The Top 3 Questions You Could Ever Ask At A Networking EventBy asking someone how they got started in whatever profession can open a huge door to their past.  This is the question puts the spotlight directly on them. They get to be the star of the show.   They get to talk about how they started their business in their basement while only being able to afford Ramen noodles.  Everyone loves to tell his or her story.  When you ask this question, it immediately shows you are interested in the other person and they will feel it.

2. The Feel Good

“What do you enjoy most about what you do?”

370913380 c3d89d0ed8 m The Top 3 Questions You Could Ever Ask At A Networking EventThis question will lead you to the discovery of what get them pumped.  This is good for two reasons.  For one, you find out what are their motivators.  Why they do what they do.  If you have some sort of product, service or opportunity down the line that can fit their needs, you already know what will get them to take action.  The second reason is that by asking this question you will dial up their energy and by the time they finish with their response, they will start to think “dang this is one interesting dude”.  That’s exactly what you want them to think.

3. The Dagger

“How can I know if someone I am talking to would be a good prospect for you?”

AICT111 265x300 The Top 3 Questions You Could Ever Ask At A Networking EventI call this one “the dagger” because no one ever ever asks this and when you do, you will win them over.  All people want to know is how you can help them, but they are not just going to ask for it.  That’s why you will and set yourself apart from the pack.  It feels like everyone has a hidden agenda these days and will go above and beyond just trying to sell each other at networking events.  Now, this question does not necessarily mean you are going to push business their way, but what’s important is that you will get a great understanding to what they are looking for.  When you lead with service instead of “what can I get”, you will soon create raving fans everywhere you go.

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  • http://www.CreateWithEric.com Eric Goldstein

    Bradley,

    Great post my friend! I think you said one
    of the most POWERFUL question one can
    ask 'How can I know if someone I am talking
    to would be a good prospect for you'…

    It's all about taking the focus off of 'you' and
    putting it on 'them'… watch what comes back
    in return!

    Thanks for the great content:)

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    I will have to give credit to my networking mentor Bob Burg for that one. Learning the principal of “how much can I give” rather that “how much can I get has completely change my life. Just help people. Be a servant. The reward is not only fulfilling, but it comes back so much faster than always being concerned with how much you can get. Thanks for the insightful comment Eric. You stuck a meaningful chord with me.

    -B

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  • mikemonty

    Another excellent post! I'm glad you put this one out, it's one of my favorites since I learn it from you, and how whenever I forget what those three questions are I can come back here and see them haha! I still need to read endless referrals but I'll get to it soon! So… when are you writing your book Brad? ;)

  • http://www.gorankem.com adamwexler

    like you said brad, there's no faking the caring. you must genuinely have the best interests of the other person in your best interests. think in terms of topics that could become mutually beneficial if possible

    additionally, i believe i got one of my favorite quotes that directly relates to this topic via Derek Sivers: “business is not done at the conference; business is done AFTER the conference”…business cards are great, but it's the followups that matter. anybody can get business cards, but not nearly everybody follows with a warm message.

    keep 'em coming!

  • http://twitter.com/JonFMoss Jon Moss

    Great post! I agree that these questions can make one look golden. Totally agree with paying homage to Bob Burg. Endless Referrals was a game changer for me too.

  • arinehart

    I think the follow-up AFTER the networking event is the most important, when you take all your business cards and you write personalized messages – a huge thumbs up to Bob Burg on this one, because I really believe just the simple thank you card got me a job offer at one of the best wellness practices in the nation. You just have to be careful of “keeping score” like it was brought up in the Go-Giver. As Gary Vaynerchuk says in Crush It, it's not the quantiy of conversations it's the QUALITY, you never know when your goodwill will pay dividends.

  • http://www.taylormarek.com taylormarek

    #LIVEIT! nuff said… ;)

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  • http://jasonmarkow.com Jason Markow

    These are all great starting points. Personally, my favorite question to ask is “What is next in your industry/ business?”

    The result I find is twofold. First: it shows you who the “forward thinking” people are. Second: it is a great way to gain ideas for directions your own industry might be heading, or possibly offer insight on how they are solving a problem you can apply to a problem of your own. Make sense?

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  • brianshaffer

    Awesome post Bradley. I especially like the question about what would make a great prospect for you. I've never been asked that but know that I would jump through hoops to keep that person happy.

  • http://WhosChrisHughes.com Chris Hughes

    Bradley, awesome points! I notice when I first went to a networking event I was thinking about how I could make money from the people I was meeting…this didn't work :-p

    After starting to learn a little more about relationships I started to just talk with people and started asking them questions about their businesses, however I haven't gotten to the point where you are at….YET!

    I am glad that you wrote up this post and can't wait to read Endless Referrals to learn some more.

    The question that stands out the most to me is the one that shows we care for the other person, asking them what their ideal prospect would be. We come across so many people in our day-to-day encounters that we're bound to run into someone we could refer to a friends business. This is great, I look forward to learning more from you!

    -Chris

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  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    I am writing my book everyday with my experiences. That is why I love blogging. It allows me to keep track and reflect on some of what I have been through. Those three questions have made me thousands in my business. You got it down Mike. It should be a part of you by now. Just lead with your serving attitude and you will be awesome. And your book??? Thanks for the comment MM.

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    Thank you Jon. Life changer. Have you read the Go-Giver?

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    Key point. Hmmm, I think I will need someone to write a guest post on this… The tip Bob gave with creating notepads with your picture on it and use that to write a hand written letter was awesome. He is right, once you are in someones house, there is a good chance you will be there for a long time. To me there is no keeping score. You just serve to serve. Receiving is just a half of giving. If someone feels like they are owed something because they gave, their intentions are usually wrong. You are right about this. You never will know when things will come back to you. They usually sneak up. But one thing is for certain, I think we can agree that it always does come back around. If not in something measurable, each time we give our soul gets more pure and that can move us closer to where we want to be. Thank you for the insightful comment :)

  • arinehart

    “each time we give our soul gets more pure and that can move us closer to where we want to be.” Love it man, retweeting now

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    Thank you Brian. And it is not even a matter of keeping score. Once you have it in you to naturally give without want. Just because you want to serve people. Your stock will go through the roof. I promise I will ask you that when I meet you at a networking event. :) Try it on for size…Thanks for leaving a comment and I hope we can win you over to come back every day!!!

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    So my question to you Adam…For those who find it hard to care for other people, what is one thing they can do to start loving others more?

    This is the second time that was mentioned here about doing business after the conference. I think we need a very talented individual to write a post about this topic. The follow up and the follow through. It was great chatting with you once again on the phone Adam and thanks again for being a valued “voice” in this community!

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    Jason,

    That is a solid question. I have don't use that much, but right there something clicked. It is great to have people that are thinking forward who aren't going to be left in the dust when things in their industry change. Another important thing for people to remember is to not sound like a robot going through their networking questions. Be in the flow of the conversation. Just use these questions as a guide to help facilitate. Thanks for the insightful comment Jason.

  • http://bradleywill.com BradleyWill

    Chris,

    The turning point for me in my life is when I realized I can do the stuff I love every single day no matter what (read, write, play with my dog, eat raw food, running, meet new people, help young entrepreneurs). Whether I have money or not, I will still do these things.

    I was always driven by money. There was a point where I had made 20k in one single month and found myself depressed. That is when I went on a reading tear to find out what the hell was wrong with me.

    I really started realizing to love other people, we really have to have a true love for ourselves. And by realizing that I could do the things I love everyday and let the money go, my appreciation for life went through the roof. Then I started caring more for myself and in turn, more about other people. Pick up the Go-Giver while your at it. Hope that helps and I appreciate you sharing your challenge with the community. You have tremendous potential and I hope to see your insight here everyday!

  • http://WhosChrisHughes.com Chris Hughes

    Bradley,

    I just purchased Go-Giver from Amazon, I feel that I need a turning point in my life. It's my senior year and I need to figure out who I am going to become.

    Just like you, I have always been driven by money although I haven't made 20k in a month yet :-p Over the summer I spent all of June and July taking summer classes and working as much as I could to make money and I really felt miserable, my life suffered and as a result relationships suffered. During all of August I spent time at 3 different beaches and a few days camping trying to relax and enjoy myself as much as I could but I found that it was of no use. I still didn't feel as good as I know that I should be.

    I'm hoping that by continuing my search to discover myself and start to truly love others I will lead a more fulfilling life. I can't wait to be at the point in my life where I am financially set, emotionally set and living the life I know I should be. I need to learn to let the money go and hopefully by reading the Go-Giver it will help me :)

  • http://www.powerposturemarketing.com/ David Emil Lombard

    Well done. Those are unequivocally my top 3 questions. When you ask the 3rd one, you totally separate yourself from everyone else, jaws drop, and you even often will step into a teaching role explaining why that question of service is how networking is done. Consequently, you'll be viewed as the knowledgeable leader. Mr. Bob Burg also discusses these 3 of 10 good questions in his book, 'Endless Referrals.'

    Keep up the great contribution!

    David

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  • michaeljackson25

    Hello,I found the comments/advice so very helpful especially when I use it in the context of our new network group which I am trying to get to grips with. The 3 star questions especially the dagger are excellent and I will certainly be using those at our next meeting.

    Thank you so much

    Michael Jackson ( No it really is )

  • michaeljackson25

    Hello,I found the comments/advice so very helpful especially when I use it in the context of our new network group which I am trying to get to grips with. The 3 star questions especially the dagger are excellent and I will certainly be using those at our next meeting.

    Thank you so much

    Michael Jackson ( No it really is )

  • http://www.adamthebean.com beanie72

    As always if you pay attention LISTEN and look for problems to solve, the leads and money will follow.
    As you stated very clearly no one cares about your product, but they are interested in how you can HELP them solve their problems.
    The other great benefit of listening is that you may just come up with a product that is going to solve a problem that you hadn't even thought of!!
    Cheers Adam

  • http://www.streetdevilz.com Ankit Bathija

    Really Helpful!!

  • Kelsey Meyer

    This is an amazing post. As a college student I am always nervous at networking events, and these three questions seem so simple but effective!

    I can't wait to go to my next networking event so I can use the “dagger” question!

  • Kelsey Meyer

    This is an amazing post. As a college student I am always nervous at networking events, and these three questions seem so simple but effective!

    I can't wait to go to my next networking event so I can use the “dagger” question!

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    Thanks for posting such a nice piece of information.

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