Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Saturday, April 13, 2013

3 Easy Networking Questions to Stand Out from the Crowd ~ Part Two

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Qualifying Questions — Larry James @ 8:30 am

Brian Hillard, Guest Author

Part 2 of 2 ~ Before you read Part 2, you may want to read Part 1.

Question #2: “What do you like best about what you do?”

This next one is actually a follow up to the old “What do you do?” question that I’ve personally been asked 1.5 million times. (Slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

NetQUESTIONIf you’ve been out networking before you already know that “What do you do?” is one of the first questions people ask you. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it just doesn’t leave you too much room to maneuver after you’ve both answered the question.

In other words, after I tell you what I do, and you tell me what you do, the conversation can sometimes feel like it’s coming to a stop as both of you rack your brains to figure out what to say next.

But with this next question I’m going to share with you, you don’t have to worry about that.

If someone tells you they own a local area print shop, you can follow up by saying,

“Hmmmm, that’s interesting. What do you like best about owning your own shop?”

Or if they told you they were a salesperson, you could ask, “What do you like best about being in sales?”

You see how this gets the conversation going in a direction that’s a lot more interesting than:

“So what do you do?”

“I’m a salesperson.”

“Oh, I own a print shop.”

[Pause, for what seems like forever but is actually a good 4 seconds.]

Now you’re talking about what they enjoy most about their busines… whatever that may be. And you notice how you’re still talking about them and what they do.

You’re just approaching it from an angle that no one else in the room has done. (There are very few things in life you can guarantee, but take my word on this one.) And when you talk about making a connection and standing out from the crowd, this question is a homerun.

One caveat though: About half the time I ask this question, people turn it right around and ask me the same thing. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you’re prepared with a good response.

Just as an example, let’s say you were a Public Relations Consultant. If someone asked what you liked best about being in PR you might say,

“Well to be honest with you, I really enjoy helping clients get the word out about their business in ways they might not have previously thought about. A lot of times when people think ‘public relations’ their first thought is of a big time Madison Avenue office and the exorbitant retainer fees that come with it.

“But for me, that’s not how we operate. We help entrepreneurs get more business through print and radio media – without them spending an arm and a leg while doing it. And I can’t tell you how satisfying that is.”

You see how I raised some issues, answered his question, and explained how I was different than others in the industry? And if that person was thinking about using a PR firm, or knew someone else who might want to, then you’ve gone a long way towards setting the stage for a possible referral.

Question #3: “I know you mentioned earlier that you were in [industry]. What got you started in that direction?”

This is a great question that I use towards the end of the conversation, and of the three questions we’ve talked about, this usually elicits the longest response. Why?

Because you’re asking about their reasons, their passion, their motivation for being in this business in the first place. I’ve had people tell me all sorts of things when I’ve asked this question. One guy told me that he was laid off from a big company, started his own consulting business out of the spare bedroom and never looked back. You just never know what you might hear.

Remember, everyone has a story. You just want to know what it is.

The Bottom Line

Asking the right questions is about earning trust and gaining rapport with your new contact. It’s about them feeling comfortable telling you about their business, without competing with you for “airtime”.

But most of all, asking the right questions is about developing a relationship with a future Referral Partner, so they’ll be more than happy to give you any referral which might come their way.

Click here for Part 1.

brianhillardCopyright © 2013 – Brian Hillard – Reprinted with permission. Brian Hilliard is a motivational speaker, consultant, and author of the book “Networking Like a Pro!” As founder of Atlanta based Agito Consulting, Brian specializes in providing individuals with actionable techniques they can use right away. Brian has also published a CD entitled, “How to Talk So Others Will Listen,” and he’s best known for delivering dynamic, thought-provoking sessions that keep people coming back. To learn more, please visit our website at

netHQLarry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

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1 Comment »

  1. […] BONUS Articles: 3 Easy Networking Questions to Stand Out from the Crowd 3 Easy Networking Questions to Stand Out from the Crowd ~ Part Two […]

    Pingback by 5 Ways to Approach People at Networking Events | Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James — Sunday, June 16, 2013 @ 8:30 am | Reply

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