Today’s podcast topic comes from Dr. Misner’s book Networking Like a Pro. Here are five questions to ask at networking events that will help you leave a lasting impression on the people you meet.
- What do you like best about what you do?
- You mentioned you were in ______ industry. What got you started in that business?
- Where else do you usually network? Are there other groups that you go to?
- What are some of your biggest challenges? (Don’t start a conversation with this one.)
- How can I help you?
Brought to you by Ask Ivan Misner.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 144 –
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by AskIvanMisner.com, a new Web site where you can ask any question you have about networking.
I’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California, and I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan. What do you have for us today?
Well, today I want to talk about some material out of my new book, Priscilla, Networking Like a Pro. Networking Like a Pro is a book that I co-authored with Dave Alexander. David Alexander is a BNI director in the Atlanta area, and it was officially released in January. It hit Number 1 on Amazon.com Bestsellers’ List.
So we’re real excited about the book. It’s got a lot of great content, and there are five questions in it that I thought BNI members like to hear. There are five questions to help you leave a lasting impression when you’re networking with people and meeting them for the first time. So here are the five questions.
One, what do you like best about what you do? This really leads to a more interesting conversation about the other person’s business, his or her likes and dislikes, their experience, so on. It’s a much better alternative than simply asking, “So, what do you do?” Or it’s a good follow-up question after you ask, “What do you do?” “What do you do” doesn’t leave much room to maneuver in terms of questioning, so if you ask what you do and move to “What do you like best about what you do,” then they really open up oftentimes and talk more about their business.
Here’s another question. “You mentioned that you were in [blank] industry,” or whatever industry, “What got you in that business? What got you started in that direction?” And this gives the other person a chance to talk about their personal goals, their desires; it gives them a chance to really kind of open up about what led them into what they’re doing. It also gives insight into how dedicated they are to the profession and how proficient they may be in that profession based on how excited they are about, in effect, their story, what got them started. You’ll find that people that are business, particularly for any length of time, are really excited usually to talk about what got them into that business.
The third question to ask is, “So where else do you usually network? Is this one of the kinds of organizations you usually visit? Are there other groups that you go to?” And this really helps break the ice during maybe an awkward period just after the introductions and offers a chance to talk about something in common to both parties. They might tell you about some casual contact network somewhere that might be of interest to you that you haven’t heard about or that you haven’t gone to visit. Or you may hear about some other groups that they’re in that may be of interest to you.
Here’s the fourth question. “What are some of your biggest challenges in what you do?” And I would recommend that actually as almost one of the very last things you bring up. If you start a conversation, I think I’ve talked about this in previous podcasts, if you start a conversation and say, “What are some of the biggest challenges,” they’re going to say, “Who are you, and why are you asking me that?” So you really want to ask that question towards the end of your conversation. The reason you want to do that is it can be really used to give you the opportunity to learn about the other person’s challenges that they have, and it gives you an opportunity to possibly give them a referral, and I don’t mean sell them your product or service, but I mean, give them a connection or referral to somebody that might be able to help them with that challenge. It’s a technique I use all the time with people that I want to build a relationship with, because it gives me an opportunity to allow follow-up in an easy way. “Gee, I read an article that addresses that very challenge that you’re talking about. Would you like to see a copy of it?” And then they’ll hand me their business card, and they’ll say, “Yeah, would you mind sending that to me.” You know you’re networking right when somebody gives you their business card and says, “Would you contact me?”
And that question helps do that.
And then the last question, particularly with people you want to maintain contact with, is my favorite five words: “How can I help you?” If you decide that the person you’re talking with is someone you’d like to have in your network, this is a great question to ask, and being helpful is probably the best way to start building a solid relationship with them. Don’t underestimate the power of “How can I help you,” especially if it’s somebody that you want to network with and they’re at a higher level of business that you are. People are always hitting up really successful people; they’re always hitting them up for business or for something, they want them to buy something from them, and people are asking for something from really successful people. They rarely ask if they can help a really successful person. And if you want to make a good connection with a high level business professional, asking how you can help them is possibly a great way to do that.
So those are my five questions. They’re out of the book Networking Like a Pro.
What do you like best about what you do?
What got you started?
Where else do you usually network?
What are some of your biggest challenges?
And how can I help you?
What do you think, Priscilla?
I think it’s great. I just want to say that if you ask somebody how you can help them, you better come through. If they tell you what it is that you can do for them and you don’t do it, you have really blown your connection.
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. They may ask for something that you can’t do, and I think it’s important to say, “Look, I’ll do my best with that, but I’m not sure that I’m the right person.” Now, I’ve done that. People have asked – I’ll ask, “How can I help,” and they’ll say something. And I’ll say, “I may not be the right person for that. I’d be glad to try to find somebody that might be able to help you with that.” And then, of course, if you do, that helps to make a good connection for them. So you’ve got to be honest, but if somebody is asking for help and you really want to open that relationship, deepen it, make it better, you’re absolutely right, Priscilla, if you say you’re going to help them, then follow through. If you don’t follow through, it’s a bad start for the relationship.
Yeah, definitely is a bad sign that you aren’t somebody they can trust.
Well, that’s all I have for today, Priscilla. Thank you.
Okay, sounds great! Thanks, Ivan.
I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by AskIvanMisner.com, which is a brand new Web site where you can ask any question you have about networking. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.