Today Dr. Misner presents us with ten networking questions from his good friend Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals. You won’t need to ask all ten questions in any one conversation.
- How did you get started in your business?
- What do you enjoy most about your profession?
- What separates you and your company from your competition?
- What advice would you give someone just starting out in your business?
- What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
- What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
- What do you see as the coming trends in your business?
- What’s the strangest/funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?
- What ways have you found to be most effective in promoting your business?
- What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do your business?
The next time you’re at a networking event, try using some of these questions. Then come back and leave a comment to let us know how it worked.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 183 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am doing great today, and I am going to be talking about some material from a really good friend of mine, and a good friend of BNI’s as well, Bob Burg. Bob has written a number of great books including Endless Referrals, which I recommend to BNI members all over the world. Bob, who is a networking expert, has ten questions that he personally uses when networking that he believes every networker should try to remember when they are meeting someone for the first time.
This is particularly great when you are at a BNI meeting during open networking and you meet a visitor. It’s also good for fellow members who you may not know well. It’s also good at a business event, such as a chamber function and you are meeting people. These are great questions to ask to sort of break the ice. So I’d like to give you all of Bob’s top ten questions that you can use here in BNI and outside of BNI as well.
Okay great. Let’s hear it.
Well, first of all, he explains that these questions are really not designed to be probing or sales-oriented in any way. They are really friendly and fun to answer. They’ll really tell you something about who is answering and how they think. You’ll never really need to ask all ten questions during any one conversation. So you should kind of internalize most of them and work them in depending on the way the conversation goes.
Here’s his top ten questions that he recommends- and that I recommend- by Bob Burg:
How did you get started in your business? Whatever your business is. How did you get started?
Second, what do you enjoy most about your profession? I love this question. I have often said that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them both proportionately. These kinds of questions really give you the opportunity to get somebody to open up. You know, it’s funny. You can ask somebody what they do, but if you ask them what they enjoy most about their profession, you really get to see them light up about what they like about their business. I really like that question. It is one of my favorites.
Three is what separates you and your company from your competition? That is a really good question, and it’s also really good to see how people answer because if they can’t answer that, they may not be, really, the best person in that field. It will pull out people who have really given thought to how they compare to other people in that profession.
Number four is what advice would you give someone just starting out in your business?
That’s a good question.
It is a good question because, you know, I’d often get people, especially when I was teaching at the university, asking me questions about specific businesses. So the more I could learn about what does it take so I can get started in this business, or any business, it was valuable to me. What advice would you give someone just starting out in your business?
Five is what one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail? I love that question. It gets people really thinking in a way that they hadn’t thought before. That’s not the kind of question- see, if you can stand out with your questions, you stand out with the person.
Give me an idea what that question might lead to.
Well sometimes, there may be issues with capitalization of their business, and they don’t have enough capital funds to do something in particular. So they may answer that question by, “I would do this really substantial project” or “ I would take this on” or “I would do that.” “I would incorporate multimedia into my my product.” “I would incorporate some internet service with what I do.” There is any direction it could go in.
One of the things that I was saying years ago with BNI was that I wanted to incorporate technology more effectively in BNI. And we are there now. We are at the point where we are starting to incorporate technologies with a system that we will be introducing by the end of 2010, called BNI Connect, which I will definitely be talking about in future podcasts. But that’s the kind of thing I would have talked about a few years ago if somebody said what one thing would you do with your business if you knew you couldn’t fail? I would have talked about BNI Connect, which I am doing now.
Okay. Now I understand it better.
Number six, what significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years? Now, I love that question, and it may not be a question you’d ask, obviously, to someone who is new in the question. But for someone who has been a while in that business, it’s a great question.
Number seven is what do you see as the coming trends in the business? That’s another one to really get a sense of how much somebody knows about what they do.
Here’s a light one that I enjoy: Tell me the strangest or the funniest incident that you have experienced in your business. Certainly anybody who has been in business for any length of time probably has a good story or two about their business.
Right, right, right. That’s good.
Number nine is what have you found to be the most effective in promoting your business? How do you promote your business? Oftentimes people will say through referrals or word of mouth, so having a conversation about that extends the value of that discussion because you are finding out about how people build their business through referrals.
Number ten, the tenth question, is what one sentence would you like people to use in describing how you do business? What one sentence would you like people to use in describing how you do business?
Those are great questions. The more you can memorize some of these- don’t go walking in with a list of questions, and you know- I’ve seen people because I have given people a list of questions to ask. There are some on here that I had never used until I read Bob’s list of questions. I have some questions of my own in my books, and I have seen people pull out the paper and say, “So tell me, what one sentence would you like people to say-” and they’ll start reading. Don’t do that. Try to remember some of this stuff and try to integrate it into your conversations as easily as you can, as smoothly as you can. Don’t make it feel cumbersome.
So just to wrap up, Bob says you are not going to get to ask more than a few of these questions during an initial conversation. Don’t worry about sounding like you are conducting an interrogation. You certainly don’t want this to sound like an interrogation.
These are really what he calls feel-good questions. People enjoy answering these kinds of questions, and they are used to establish an initial rapport. So next time you are at a networking event, try using a few of these questions and come back and leave a comment on this podcast. I would love to know how it has worked for BNI member who try some of these questions at a BNI meeting or at other events. Come back and tell us how it goes here.
Okay. That is great. I think you can actually learn a lot about your own business if you think about those questions and have prepared answers.
Yeah, I think so. It would be good to have some prepared answers, but I think maybe people we meet aren’t going to ask these good of questions. You know, they are much more superficial. I love it when people ask me a question that I have never heard before. I got one just recently and that’s the reason that I am doing this podcast. I love this question that a woman asked me recently.
I thought it was so creative. It was a BNI member, and I was at a big BNI event. She said, “So tell me, what is the coolest thing that has happened to you today?” I thought, what a great question! Nobody has ever asked me that question. What is the coolest thing that has happened to you today? It made me think. I had to really sit for a second or two and really think about what had happened that day that was the best part of my day. I shared it with her, and she was appreciative.
I’ll tell you what I like about it is that you stand out when you ask a question like that. I remember her. I remember where I was. I remember the situation. And so you are much more likely to be remembered when you ask a question that really stands out to people.
That is a very personal question in a good way. Not overly personal, but you know-
Very true. Thank you for sharing these questions with me and allowing me to share them with BNI members. We love Bob Burg. He is a great guy. He is one of the networking guys out there who truly walks the talk. He really does the things that he talks about, so I really love promoting him and his material. Thanks Priscilla.
Great. Well, I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you’ll join us again next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.