I am extremely frustrated lately with people who give advice Â but without substance. Â Years ago I was speaking with a consultant about her latest project. Â After describing her recommendations, I was shocked and asked how that implementation would go when some of the recommendations sounded like they conflicted. Â She indignantly announced, “I don’t do implementation”. Â Well people, we all do implementation so it is fine to say things like, “ask GOOD questions at networking events and then listen to the answers” (one blog I read this week) but unless the person receiving the advice knows what a good question looks like or who their prospect list should include, your advice is useless!
At a recent networking event a man asked me my favorite movie as his opening question. Â I suppose there is something telling about my choice (I like the Lord of the Rings and if you are going to tell me that’s three movies, then I like the middle one) but in reality, we ended up talking about movies in our little group and not about anything any of us could use the next time to connect. Â In fact, I don’t remember his name or his company – just that he liked the Godfather. Â So was that a good question? Â He was unique, but didn’t get anything useful so I would say no.
Another person upon introduction asked me my biggest challenge. Â I quickly fished for something that was inocuous enough I didn’t mind telling a stranger (I believe I said something like while I love my existing clients, I need more just like them!) and then turned the table on him. Â We then spent the majority of the time talking about HIS biggest challenge and I ended up introducing him to someone else at the meeting who could help. Â I don’t remember him either. Â Nor did he follow up and thank me for the connection.
So what are good questions? Â In truth, any question can be good or bad depending on the situation and the person you ask. Â I recently got great results when I asked what brought the individual to the meeting. Â Turns out they were looking for ways to get better at marketing so we had a lot to talk about. Â While she did most of the talking, by the end she walked away with information that I was able to mention in my follow up after the meeting and we are in discussions to do a project. Â Reading a little on different industries can also help because when I meet someone I can ask something very specific. Â Things that start, “how are you affected by…” or “what challenges do you have with…” can lead to very interesting conversations and sometimes are so timely the person wants to talk for a long time! Â The other questions I love to use is when I’m in a small group at a networking event, I will ask a question that is more for another person in our group. Â If I ask something like, “how does your practice relate to what Janet does in financial planning?” or something along those lines, it gets the two people involved in a discussion and they both get to look good. Â Generally at that point I get to sit back and take mental notes so I have a wealth of Â information to follow up on later.
A good question at a networking event is one that causes the other person to talk about their business in a way that allows you to figure out how you can help, and that causes them to remember you once you have walked away. Â So plan ahead and have 5-7 questions ready before you go. Â And stop reading people that don’t give you the real advice!
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