Key questions to use at any networking events

For many people, the most frightening part of networking is starting the conversation with someone. Once that conversation is going and mutual topics have been established, it gets much easier but how do you reach that part?

Ideally, you should always have a couple of key questions up your sleeve to help start and maintain a conversation. A few that may be worth making note of include:

(1) The ‘starting’ questions. The best way to start a conversation is with a few general questions after you introduce yourself, such as:

  • Do you mind if I join you?
  • I’ve just arrived, have you been here long?

(2) Once you’ve broken the ice with some general questions, you can delve a little deeper and understand why the other person is there.

  • What brought you to this event?
  • Have you been to this event/venue before?
  • Who else do you know here?

(3) With some context as to why they are at the event, you can prompt some questions about their profession:

  • What do you get do/what’s your profession?
  • How did you into that industry/profession?
  • What do you like most about your role?

(4) In understanding what the other person does, you can encourage some discussion that may help you gain a deeper understanding of their business or industry to determine where there might be opportunity or shared interest:

  • What changes have you seen in your industry/profession recently?
  • What do you see as the coming challenges or opportunities for your sector?
  • What roles do you feel will be in demand in your industry over the coming years?

(5) A good way to break up the conversation is to touch on casual questions that aren’t part of work. Good networking should be a balance between business and personal. Some ideas may be:

  • What do you do for fun?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • What’s on your reading list?

Having a range of questions ready that you can draw on will be important to help start and maintain a conversation that ideally will allow you to get to know people better and forge more powerful connections and opportunities.