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Dreading Small Talk? Refresh Your Networking Questions

As an executive search firm, Centennial highly recommends that you stay close with your network. Those relationships are key to gaining wisdom, generating revenue, helping you through transition and living a well-rounded life.

Get ready for your next networking meeting by reviewing the conversation-starters detailed below. Remember, no question in the world will help you build relationships and loyalty with clients and friends if you’re not truly interested in them. So, the next time you are tempted to ask “Where are you from?” or “What brings you here today? instead try:

  1. What advice would you give me if I wanted to be successful in your line of work? It shows your humility, eagerness to learn and could open a door for mentoring. Even if it’s not an industry you are interested in, consider how these best practices are applicable across industry lines.
  2. Tell me about your favorite client/teacher/friend – You will learn what they value and appreciate, plus you might get some funny stories that you can remind them of in the future.
  3. Describe the ideal employee for your company/organization? These attributes are priceless – jot them down once you leave. This question could also open conversation around mentoring/sponsoring.
  4. What do you enjoy most about what you do? This question may seem light, but it gives you a better feel for their personality and drive.
  5. What do you see as the coming trends in your area of expertise? You’ll hear about advances in technology, labor, costs, etc. All of which gives you industry or competitor insight, plus a pulse on the economy.
  6. What was the strangest/funniest situation you’ve experienced in your business? People love to share work stories of being in the trenches and how they persevered and succeeded. Resist the temptation to interrupt or to interject your own war stories unless they ask at the end.
  7. It’s the end of a great week and you have some free time on your hands – what will you do? This question replaces “what are you doing this weekend” to more of what is your ideal weekend. You will get less tasks and learn more of their personal life and dreams.
  8. How did you get involved in this non-profit/sports league/book club? People like to tell their story. Give them an opportunity to do so. You will learn more about them, their beliefs and about the organization.
  9. What have you found to be the best way to promote yourself and your business/charity of choice? Listen to their ideas and borrow their experiences in your business.
  10. Where are your favorite places to get work done? A change of scenery can increase your creativity and productivity. Try leaving the office and working remotely each month.

What questions would you add to this list?

About Kristie Sheanshang

Kristie Sheanshang combines her 16 plus years of working with corporate leaders in finance and lending, plus her seven years as an entrepreneur and certified image consultant to build confidence and presence in Flair’s clients (www.Flairconfidence.com). Sheanshang is hired as a trainer and consultant to break the cycles of workplace challenges and to boost sales, networking and executive presence. In addition to founding Flair Style LLC (c) in 2010, she is the wife of a second-generation family business owner; a mom to two terrific, faith driven and fashionable kids; a 2011 Winner – Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce WE Celebrate “Businesses WE Watch”; and a 2016 Women of Influence Award recipient.

Sheanshang is a founding member of TriloGy, a Christian ministry of 100+ women; founder of Share the Love, an outreach through Lighthouse Youth Services to teach school age kids about Homelessness; a former board member of Impact 100; volunteers with Lighthouse Youth Services and at her children’s’ school. She has been involved with the Junior Leagues of Chicago and Cincinnati, as well as Dress for Success Cincinnati, where she served as president of the Young Professional Board, member of the Corporate Guild and a volunteer at their Portaluca Boutique.  She was raised in Grosse Pointe, MI and received BS degrees in both Business and Mass Communications from Miami University, Oxford Ohio.  She enjoys spending time with her family, running, golfing, cooking, playing tennis and Legos.