You walk into a room full of strangers at a networking mixer, start with one of these great networking event pick-up lines and mentally pat yourself on the back for being the first one to strike up a conversation.
Because lets face it, you rarely ever have someone at ‘hello’ and a conversation quickly fall flats if neither of you can take it past that opening line.
Here are five great questions to open up the conversation and give you an opportunity to take a deeper dive into the other person’s business — which increases the chances that you’ll be asked deeper questions about yours as well.
1. Who are your typical customers? This question not only gets someone talking about their business’s target market but it also subtlety lets them know that you want to learn how to best connect them with others. And trying to be a connector is the most effective way to network.
2. How do you find new customers? Again, this question gets a person talking about their target market but also likely exposes their desire (or need) to invest more effort in hitting the business development sweet spot (which in our case is a chance to jump in and talk about the business initiatives we produce to fuel tomorrow’s longer-term strategic plans.)
3. What are you most passionate about at work? A person’s passion is typically the factor that sets them apart from others. And in small businesses, a person’s passion frequently translates into the business’s differentiator — an important aspect to learn about any business.
4. How did you get started in this business? Now you’re asking about a person’s personal connection to the business and, let’s face it, most people like being asked to talk about themself.
5. Where do you plan to take the business in the future? This question could garner anything from a shrug to visions of franchising — whatever the answer it offers interesting insight into future goals.
Finally, before shaking hands and parting ways, ask about other networking events they may attend. You just met at a meet and greet after all so it’s a pretty safe assumption that the other person attends other networking events as well. Asking opens the door to discovering you’ll meet again — or better yet, opens the door to getting an invitation (or giving an invitation) to another event.
Remember, at a networking mixer, you’re there to make a good first impression. By asking insightful questions you’ll be starting real conversations. This is the first step to forging genuine business relationships.