Make the most of networking events by asking the right questions

A local business friend recently asked me, “What’s your favorite way to meet other businesspeople?” I responded, “Attend live networking events.” In my opinion, even in today’s digital business environment, live networking will always play a huge role in making good connections. It’s a great way for people to connect and find ways to help each other.

It’s true that live networking takes time, and one has to be willing to take the time to build a strong circle of friends who have influence or power and can introduce you and your company to other people with influence or power. Every savvy business builder I’ve ever met has spent time shaking hands and exchanging business cards at important events.

Some people find it challenging to think of what to say to someone they’ve never met before. It helps to have a couple of open-ended questions at the ready — questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those than can be answered with a simple yes or no. The questions should also allow others to “shine.” 

The following are some examples of good networking questions:

  • How long have you been a member of this club/group/organization?
  • Have you always lived in Wisconsin/New York/Las Vegas/wherever?
  • Where did you live before you came to this area?
  • Who helped you get connected with this group/organization?
  • How did you get interested in model airplanes/stock car racing/polo?
  • What kinds of clubs and organizations did you belong to before coming to this area?
  • What kinds of clubs and organizations are you interested in joining here?
  • How did you get interested in writing a novel/magazine article/speech?
  • How did you begin your career with Jason’s Jelly Beans/Patrick’s Photography/Artistic Products?

The secret of asking good questions is to make others comfortable talking about themselves. That’s also a secret to building a strong network.



Working your net simply means talking to people. Anyone you might share a common interest with can be the start of a new net. When you think about it, we’ve been networking since we were born. It’s amazing how many people each of us has in our own personal net. When one “links” those connections to others in their realm, the contact possibilities grow exponentially.

While technology is propelling us toward finding people we want to connect with through electronic means, old-fashioned networking events and person-to-person interaction will never go out of style. Many professionals prefer face-to-face opportunities over online-based networking because there’s a higher potential for good-quality relationships. Some just prefer face-to-face contact because they like to know and meet (in person) those they intend to do business with.

No matter how they do it, good business professionals are out there working their net(s).

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.