Is one of the reasons you avoid networking as an introvert, because the answers to some of the questions you ask make you want to look at your shoes and puke? I’m just getting to know Stephanie Rainbow Bell at Facebook, and Twitter and while she is more extroverted, as “The No B.S. Coach” she’s allergic to networking because of all the BS that goes on in elevator pitches and conversations. Sometimes, when I let my guard down, the same feeling of disgust overwhelms me. But when I prepare, with good questions, I leave feeling positive about the event, the people I meet and my own networking results. Let’s get down to some questions that you might consider asking to get beyond that make-me-hold-my-nose-in-disgust small talk:
Introvert-itude©: Masterful questions come naturally and can help you keep the focus off of you and on the other person.
1. One question which is just above small talk radar for meeting new people which can yield valuable insights, “How is it you’re here at this event tonight and not doing something else?” At first they might laugh. Then you hear, they’re a member of the group, they serve on the speakers committee, one of their partners loves the group or they just popped in because there was nothing better to do. Listening to a person’s response will give you a bit about their style, their connections and them as a person.
2. My guess is most of us, introvert and extrovert alike, have little problem connecting with friends when networking. If you’re like me though, falling into the “How are you?” often gets that stare into nowhere, hidden behind a smile on someone’s face even if you know them. Yield, can’t stand the answer. I often like surprising my friends and instead ask, “So why haven’t I see YOU lately?” Much better because it starts with a laugh and then moves to the real nitty gritty of why they’ve been missing in action.
3. If I like who I’m face-to-face with, friend or new acquaintance, one of my favorite questions is, “Who can I introduce you to here tonight?” I’ve been in business in my community for 30 years so I do know many people. My reason for asking this question is to determine if I am going to be able to help this person and to discover how clear they are about who their customer is. It helps with assessing the mutual benefit of deepening the relationship.
Two thoughts so you don’t work so hard with this:
Small talk is just that; small. That’s why we can’t stand those answers to many small talk questions. You don’t need a lot of questions, you just need a few information gathering rich questions.
Build up to power question that dig deep. One Stephanie uses most, “What are the 3 things you are most passionate about?” This will shine on a light on a more meaningful conversation and be a question you want to have the answer to.
Will any of these questions work for you?
What are some questions YOU can stand the answers to when you network?