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Networking Like a Pro: Three Easy Questions to Help You Stand Out

Simple ways to make a lasting impression

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The following is an excerpt from Brian Hilliard's Networking Like a Pro!

Question. Generally speaking, during most conversations people like to talk more about: a) Themselves, or b) Other people.

Answer, (a) Themselves.

Question. Generally speaking, during most conversations people: a) Tend to talk more than they listen, or b) Tend to listen more than they talk.

Answer, (a) Tend to talk more than they listen.

Extra credit. If at networking events you're listening while they're talking, and then you ask a good follow-up question based on the information you just heard, you're going to be less or more likely to stand out in their minds?

Answer, more likely.

And if we know that networking is less about meeting new people than having them remember you after the fact, then keeping these techniques in mind is a great first step in helping you stand out from the crowd.

So how do get someone to remember you from the other ten people he met that very same night?

Well, one great communication technique is a term called focused attention, and this is one of my favorites when it comes to effective listening skills.

Another great way to stand out from the crowd is to ask the "right" questions of people when you're talking to them.

What are some examples of the "right" questions you ask? Let's take a look at a few of my favorites.

So where else do you normally network?

Amy Windham, a sales and marketing colleague of mine here in Atlanta, first brought this one to my attention and it's an absolute gem. Not only does it help break the ice during that sometimes-awkward period just after you've introduced yourself, but it also gives you a chance to talk about something you both know a little bit about.

Another reason I like this question so much is that it gives you the opportunity to make an "instant connection" with that other person.

How?

By providing valuable information they might not have had before. And as we all know, one of the keys to creating a solid business contact is to first make a connection with that individual.

As an example of this, I was at a networking event one morning when I asked the person where else he normally networked.

He told me that as a matter of fact, he didn't know of too many other places around town because he just moved to the area.

Well that was music to my ears, because as a person who's lived in Atlanta for almost five years, I like consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to local networking events.

So I gave him the names of a couple of groups off the top of my head, and I mentioned that I would shoot him an email when I thought of some more.

Well let me tell you something, you could almost see the relief in his eyes. He was genuinely grateful that I was helping him out with that information.

And that's what I mean when I talk about creating a connection with someone, and developing a solid business contact. And let me ask you something, if that were you, would you remember me after that event?

You bet.

So what do you like best about what you do?

This is another good question I like to ask early on in the conversation because in my opinion it's a little "fresher" approach to the old, "So what do you do?" Everyone's been asked that one before, and this question here gives you another option for getting that same information.

One caveat though: About 40% of the time I ask this question, people turn it right around and ask me the same thing. So don't say I didn't warn you.

Oh I see. So what got you started in that direction?

This is a great question to ask during the latter stages of the conversation, and of the three questions we've talked about, this will usually elicit the longest response.

And that's good too, because now we're getting ready to wind down our conversation, but not before we get a chance to learn a little bit about what motivates this person, and he go to where he is today.

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