My #1 Networking Secret: Ask More Questions

networking tips for entrepreneurs
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Ever been to a networking event and felt completely out of your depth? Maybe you didn’t know what to say, or worse, you felt like you were blending into the wallpaper. We have all been there! But let me share a little secret that transformed my networking game: asking more questions. It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly effective. After attending more events than I’d like to count I’ve realized two things:

– Asking questions is the secret sauce to successful networking

– Not enough people are doing it!

If you’ve ever felt awkward or unsure at a networking event, keep reading. I’ll share how asking the right questions can make you memorable and likable, and most importantly, help you build genuine connections.

Why Asking Questions Works

People love talking about themselves. It’s a simple psychological fact. We love ourselves! When you ask someone a question, you’re giving them an opportunity to share their story. This not only makes you more memorable but also more likable. I once attended a conference where I felt completely out of my league. There was just so many people there. But instead of trying to impress people with my achievements or how much I make, I started asking them about themselves. The result? I left with more connections and follow-up emails than I even hoped for.

What Types of Questions Should You Ask At Networking Events?

Not all questions are created equal. Networking is about creating connections with people, so you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions that encourage that. 

Here are some effective question types to get the conversation flowing:

  • Open-Ended Questions: Asking open-ended questions encourages people to give more than one-word responses and sparks better conversations. “What inspired you to start your business?” is far more engaging than a simple “What do you do?”
  • Follow-Up Questions:  Once you have someone talking, try asking follow up questions. They show you’re genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. If someone mentions they’re working on a new project, ask, “What challenges are you facing with that project?”
  • Personal Questions: We’re not all business (even though some days it may feel that way!). It’s ok to ask personal questions at business networking events. How else will you know if you get along? Start safe and ask what they like to do outside of work. Let them determine how personal it gets on the first meeting, then use your follow-up questions to get into a more meaningful conversation.
  • Industry-Specific Questions: I love to mix business with personal questions, but if you’re not comfortable getting personal, industry-specific questions are fine too! These demonstrate your knowledge and interest in their field. “Oh, I just saw a Tiktok about that! What do you think about that?”

Tailoring your questions to each person you’re speaking with shows that you’re genuinely interested in them, not just looking for a way to pitch your own business. People remember that!

How to Prepare for Networking Events

Preparation is key. Before you go to a conference or big event, do a little homework. Research the other attendees or speakers if you can. This gives you a list of people you will want to speak to. I usually prepare a list of people and let the conversations happen naturally, but if working on your networking skills feel free to prep more!  Prepare a few relevant questions to ask people or come up with a really good question to fall back on.

Overcoming Nerves When Networking

It’s natural to feel nervous about asking questions. What if they think I’m intrusive? What if I get rejected? Here’s the thing: most people are happy to talk about themselves. Start with simple questions and read their body language. If they seem enthusiastic, keep going. If they’re brief, move on to another topic (or another person). In time, you’ll get better at reading these cues and finding the people who want to connect.

Take It Online Too

You can make genuine connections online too. On social media, engage with industry leaders and ideal clients by commenting on their posts and asking insightful questions. Online networking can be just as powerful as face-to-face events. I’ve started conversations with a lot of people online before ever meeting them in person!

Make Asking Questions Your Networking Strategy

Asking questions should be a core part of your networking strategy, both online and offline.  It makes you memorable, builds genuine connections, and opens doors to new opportunities. Next time you’re at a networking event, remember this secret and put it into practice. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Feeling inspired to elevate your networking game? Let’s work together to refine your strategy. I have three openings for one-on-one coaching right now. I’ll help you get better at networking and we can even prep and role-play to get you ready! Let’s turn those awkward encounters into meaningful connections and opportunities.

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