Conversation starters part 2

This text sequels the previous post.

Because it is not only important what you say, but also how you say it, I will give you some examples of sentences you might use. Of course some of the questions are easier in one situation than another. Let them inspire you to make your own!

Open questions:

  • What in the program appealed to you?
  • Who do you know of the organisation?
  • How well do you know the other attendees?
  • What aspect of your job do you like the most?
  • Who invited you?
  • Where did you hear of this event?
  • What activities is your organisation involved in?
  • What makes your organisation special? What makes your organisation unique or different than others?
  • Where does your name come from? Does it have a special meaning?
  • Where do you come from?
  • Besides your work, what are your other interests?
  • What’s your opinion on the latest technology breakthrough in our industry?
  • How do you feel about meeting other people at networking events?
  • What’s your favourite sport?

Closed questions (are best followed by an open question):

  • “Are you a member of the organisation?”
    • Answer = Yes: “For how long?” or “What do you like best about the organisation?”
    • Answer = No: “Are you planning to become a member?” “Why (not)?” “Which requirements do you have when considering joining an organisation?”
  • “Is this your first time at this location/event/this year/…?”
    • Yes: “What are your expectations?” “Who do you like to meet?” “Who can I introduce you to?”
    • No: “What are the differences with other times?”
  • “Did you watch the game of the national soccer team yesterday?”
    • Yes: “What would you have done if you were the national coach?” (almost every sports fan has his own opinion about how to play)
    • No: “Do you like soccer and sports?” or “What’s your favourite sport?”

My golden tip is to begin your question with: “How do you feel about…?” This is a very safe question. You don’t ask the other person about his opinion. When a person has to phrase his opinion, he would like to give the best possible answer after considering the pro’s and contra’s. So he has to be careful about what he is going to say and how he is going to formulate it. A question about a feeling is less “threatening”: “It is only a feeling”. But in fact you get the best possible reply, because people tend to decide emotionally (feelings) and explain their decision rationally. So if you get a “feeling response” you know that this is something that really affects someone. This is a good basis to really connect with another person, beyond the usual business or superficial talk.

To your networking success !

Jan

PS: this is an excerpt from my networking book “Let’s Connect!” (www.letsconnect.be)

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