“Networking” can sometimes be a terrifying experience. Meeting new people means coming out of your comfort zone and having to openly discuss your career goals and aspirations. I have a friend who actually has social anxiety; so, anywhere required to speak to a bunch of strangers can be quite intimidating. More so for me, the conversations at networking events can be awkward with the pointless small talk and the boring “interview” approach along with the taking of business cards with no real business follow up. However, networking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Networking opportunities are a great and useful way to building connections and supporting your career goals.
So what questions should you ask? Well, it’s important to have prepared questions ahead of time so networking will be both worth the time and enjoyable. Having a list of questions ready can also help with anxiety. Here are some great questions to ask when you go to your next networking event. It will help boost that boss lady confidence that you’re so ready to bring out. Take a deep breath and don’t be shy! Oh, and have some business cards too.
What made you want to pursue that profession?
This a great question to follow up with the basic job description that person normally shares at the beginning of the conversation. It shows that you’re genuinely interested in knowing the person you are connecting with. You’re getting to know their background story of what led to their current career path. The conversation can reveal some interesting takeaways about the person.
What excites you the most about your job?
People love to talk about what they are passionate about so this question is a great way to keep the conversation running smoothly. The question can open the dialogue into something that they don’t like about their job or a funny story about work.
I’m actually quite interested in________. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue that profession?
This a great question to ask someone who you’re seeking as a potential resource. This question goes beyond just taking a business card. You become memorable to that person because they see you are interested in what they do and may be willing to help you and offer a job referral. Also, a possible mentor/mentee relationship could progress.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Touching on more personal topics with your conversational partner is a nicer way to talk about things other than those boring subjects people feel gravitated to discuss at a professional event. And, you might identify a hobby or interest you both have in common–giving you more opportunity to expand on a much stronger relationship.
What are you doing after this? (Be careful with this one…)
Sometimes when I meet awesome people at a networking event, I like to go hang out and have drinks afterward. The atmosphere is way more relaxing and I find it more enjoyable to be myself in a more laid-back environment. But you don’t want to overdo it. You still need to be selective in the people who you hang out with and have to be somewhat well-maintained and professional around others.
Featured image: @michaelsosinski
Now go out there and make some connects! Please comment below if you have any other good networking questions.