Networking Questions that Kill & What to Say Instead
Most people want to have positive networking engagements. Well intentioned, we hope for meaningful connections that are mutually beneficial and lasting, but at times what we say doesn't work towards that end. These 5 frequently asked networking questions kill interaction and number one is the most deadly.
5. What's your revenue? ...profit margins? ...how much money do you make? Curiosity needs to kill this cat. First consider why you want to know this information then...
Try Asking: What's the size of the company? How many people work there? Do you think its a worthwhile business to pursue?
4. Who are your clients? Companies keep their client information confidential for a reason and this question makes a person feel like they need to name drop.
Try Asking: What types of clients do you work with? Who has been your favorite person to work with and why?
3. Who else do you know? Networking is about meeting people, but no one want to feel like a means to an end. The most fruitful and lasting connections are balanced and authentic.
Try Asking: How do you meet people in the area? What types of connections have proved most meaningful to you?
2. Can you get me a job or meeting? Networking is one of the best ways to gain insights into upcoming opportunities, but the answer to this question, as asked is, no. Only you can get the job or meeting. Take that pressure and expectation off of your network, which can provide information and introductions.
Try Asking: Do you know of any career opportunities with the company? What is the best way to connect with...? I'm looking to break into this industry, how did you make the transition?
1. [a random] Hi. [and] How about we jump on a quick zoom call?
Are the serial killers of online networking. When it comes to the virtual space, let common behavior in the physical space guide you. If you would not expect much of a conversation from a stranger you randomly walked up to and said hi or called, don't expect much of a response virtually. The biggest challenge with these two approaches is with purpose. When purpose is not identified and agreed upon, we are wasting each other’s most valuable resource, time.
Before you slide into someone's DMs interact with their posts and/or be visible on your social media to establish a presence. When you do reach out personalize the message [no copy/paste] and clearly state your purpose or intention. There is no shame in expanding your network to increase sales. Burying that purpose to then surprise a person well into the interaction is no better than an upfront hard sell. If you're intention is to try within a professional network <bad idea> but be upfront with that purpose too.
Try Asking: I see that you're interested in ___ and would like to know your thoughts on ___. I'd like to find ways we could work together in the future.
Naturally, nerves impact networking and can get in the way of a casual conversation. Try to create a low risk environment with few expectations. Vary your networking approach in style and format. Alternate between small talk and poignant questions to avoid an interview-like feel. Experiment with apps like Shapr and Clubhouse.
Other questions to ask:
How did you get into the field?
What inspires you?
What are some challenges in your field?
Where do you see opportunities?
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
What are some of your favorite books or resources?
Check out the following TedTalk, it changed my conversations (#2 is my fav, I stuggle with #4)