Networking is one of the best ways to get ahead in life. Whether you're a seasoned professional in the industry or still in school, there are many benefits to be gained by networking with others. The best part is that networking is (for the most part) free! Nowadays, with online services like LinkedIn and social media growing daily, you can reach out to almost anyone you want and set up meetings effortlessly.
However, nailing the actual networking meeting is not as easy as setting one up. For networking to be successful, you need to strike it off with the person you're chatting with and stay in touch for the long run. That all starts with asking good networking questions. Good networking questions often lead to meaningful conversation which can be the start of a long-lasting acquaintanceship.
This post will reveal some of the most insightful networking questions to ask. Let's get right into it.
Benefits of Networking
Before getting into the best networking questions, it's essential first to understand the benefits of networking. Here are some ways that networking could be important for your future.
- Business connections – Needless to say, networking is great for growing your professional connection base. If you manage to build trust with your contacts over time, they can be very helpful to any future professional pursuits.
- Knowledge – Reading books about different subjects is great, but one of the best ways to increase your knowledge of something is to chat with someone in the field. The more you network, the more you'll learn about subjects that you might not have even known existed.
- Confidence – As you speak with more people, you'll naturally develop confidence. You'll get more confident at telling your own story and also at just interacting with new people. You'll also inevitably figure out who you get along with and who you need to work a little harder to have a good conversation with.
- Job-hunting – Building connections is a great way to find a job that you love. As you probably know, most jobs available are not listed online or on job boards. These jobs are handed out to people who know the hiring team. If you want to up your chances to getting hired at a place you love, networking can help.
- Perspective – It's really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of your current job or industry. Chatting with people from all walks of life can help you gain some perspective and view certain situations with a fresh set of eyes.
These are just some of the benefits of networking. As you continue to chat with people and grow your book of contacts, you'll find that life seemingly gets easier and easier!
Behavior and Mannerisms
One of the most important things to remember when networking is that your behavior and mannerisms matter way more than what kind of questions you ask.
Lots of people tend to forget this, but regardless of who you're talking to, they're still human. Almost every single person would enjoy a pleasant conversation over a rude/hostile one. Keeping this simple fact in mind will allow you to better guide the conversation and also go with the flow. This gives you the best shot at a good outcome from your chat.
When networking with someone, remember to:
- Relax and be friendly to whoever you're chatting with
- Be respectful and polite
- Have a smile and a positive outlook
The 15 Best Networking Questions
Here are some networking questions to ask that can help guide the conversation. Use these in conjunction with all other networking best practices and you'll be well on your way to forming better relationships.
- What does your current job entail?
- Can you walk me through a day in the life of (insert role)?
- How long have you worked at the place you're currently employed?
- What do you enjoy about your job the most?
- What do you wish were better about your job/things that you dislike?
- What experience did you need to land your current role?
- How have your responsibilities changed as you've advanced in your role and progressed within the company?
- What are some of the toughest problems that you've had to solve while at work?
- What kind of professional or personal skills does it take to succeed in your role?
- What are some major trends you see in the industry?
- Where do you see yourself in five to ten years' time?
- What are some of your favorite books/podcasts/shows?
- Does your job require that you travel a lot?
- As someone who has gone through the process, how would you recommend I best position myself for an application at your company?
- Is there anyone else you could recommend me to chat with to learn more about the industry and your company?
Having these 15 networking questions up your sleeve will make it much easier for you to meet new people and really strike it off.
Questions That You Might Get Asked
Now that we've gone over 15 questions to ask whoever you're networking with, let's take a look at some questions that YOU might get asked. You could ask some really insightful questions, but if you aren't prepared to answer any of your own, you won't leave a good impression on whoever you're chatting with. Even though you're not chatting with an interviewer, many questions asked in coffee chats are similar to interview questions, and it pays dividends to be prepared to answer them.
Here are some questions you might get asked when doing networking:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are some of your qualifications and accomplishments?
- Where are you in the job-search process?
- How is your current position?
On top of these questions, you'll also want to be aware that the person you're chatting with you can fully turn any question you ask back onto you. So be prepared to answer any question that you dish out.
Recap: The Best Networking Questions To Ask
Networking is one of the most important aspects of getting ahead in life. Whether it be for professional purposes, meeting new people, or just gaining insightful ideas, getting to know more people can help you with your journey.
This post has revealed 15 of the best networking questions to ask. Use these and you're much more likely to have a more productive conversation and gain a connection for the long term. It's up to you now to start connecting with people and moving the needle in your own life.
Jeff is a current Harvard student and author of the blog Financial Pupil who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.