Conversation starters – 3 ways to get past networking pleasantries

Walking into a networking event is not easy.  Many of us never make it out of our desk chairs to attend. So what’s the big hurdle? Creating conversation.  Like a good workout, we always start with some warm-up questions: What is your name?  Where do you work or what do you do?  Where do you live?

But once these questions have been answered, where do you go from there?

One thing to consider is how to determine if you can add value to your new friend and their livelihood.  We’re all there to make meaningful connections. A connection to someone who might make a referral in the future.

So how about taking the time to learn more about them?  What are they looking for? See if there are any similarities between your two businesses and where you might help each other.  Here are three questions to try out after the pleasantry warm-ups.

1.) Tell me about a recent “win” you had in helping a client? The answer will give you insight into how they work with their clients and exactly what they do to help them. Here is your chance to see if you and your new acquaintance have the same client service values and goals.  You’d only want to refer them as resource to your network or clients, if they share your standards and approach.

2.) Tell me how did you come by your most recent client? Learning how your new friend gets their clients can help you see if your networks are complimentary.  You want to broaden your network not replicate the contacts you already have.

3.) Can you give me an example of the kind of challenges your clients come to you for help with? This conversation will describe the types of companies they work with and what the owners are struggling with.  Listen and determine if there is a way for you to contribute to their clients and compliment your networking pal’s work?

The next time you head out to an event, don’t just grab your business cards, take these 3 questions along too.  We think you’ll find it’s not so hard to have worthwhile conversations and grow your network.