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How to Network Effectively

Written by: Hannes Geiger

If you are networking correctly, the other person will never notice you are networking! Networking is never about you but always about the other person. Learn more about them by asking questions. Questions are the successful networker’s most valuable ammunition. The person who asks questions controls the conversation. Great sales people never push, they lead!

People will do business with those they know, like and trust. Earn their trust by showing that you care about them.

1.) How did you get started? Let them share their story.

2.) What do you enjoy most about your profession? This question elicits a good, positive feeling.

3.) What separates you and your company from the competition? This is a "permission to brag" question.

4.) What advice would you give someone that just starts out in business? This is a question that allows the other person to feel like a mentor.

5.) What is the one thing you would do in business if you could not fail? Allow the other person to fantasize. They will care enough that you asked. It may take some time for them to answer. Allow this to happen.

6.) What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years? This is ideal for people with experience and allows them to reflect n their business life.

7.) What do you see as coming trends in your business?  This is the “speculator” question. It allows the other person to be an expert and “hot shot” in your eyes.

8.) What was the funniest or strangest incident you have experienced in your business? This allows the other person to tell their “war stories”. Normally, they don’t have an opportunity to share these… now you are their captive audience.

9.) What ways have you found to be the most effective way for promoting your business? This question highlights the positive in the other person’s mind as well as the way they think. Don’t use this question with advertisers or marketing professionals as it comes across as probing.

10.) What one sentence would you like others to use in describing the way you do business? This is the ultimate compliment as no one ever asks this one. You are one step closer to “like”.

It is not what you ask. It is how you ask. You will normally only have time to ask two or three of these questions. Don’t interrogate the other person but ask in a caring and concerned manner.

Use extender questions, such as “Tell me more” or “Really?” Use the “echo” technique by repeating back the last few words.

And here it is! The following question separates the professionals from the amateurs.

Just by asking, you immediately differentiate yourself from the pack. The ones that don’t read this. This question shows that you are more concerned about the person you are communicating with and their success. Don’t ask this question too early!

11.) How can I know if someone I am speaking to is a good prospect for you?

Why do we ask all these questions? Nobody likes a person who just hands out business cards. No one cares about our published sales pitch.

When we ask these questions we give the feeling that their success matters.

In a free-enterprise based economy, the amount of money you make is directly proportional to the number of people you serve. Your goal is to allow the other person to know you, like you and trust you. If they do, they will allow you to tap into their own personal 250 person “circle of trust.

Networking is never about “selling” to the other person!

If you would like to discuss this article or share your own experiences in networking, please contact Hannes Geiger at MerHan - Strategic Consulting and Coaching via e-mail hannes.geiger@merhan-coach.com.