Asking the right questions from the people you meet at a networking event has directly to do with your purpose.
Because when your purpose is clear…
you ask questions that have a reason
you ask questions that have meaning
you ask questions that bring you closer to the other person
when you ask the right questions, you get useful answers
when you have the right answers,
you get closer to your purpose.
So let’s get clear on what purpose is.
That means, let’s get it perfectly clear why we do networking.
It is not just about finding someone to talk to while drinking free beer.
It is also not just about “asking for a job” [I’ll explain this in a few moments]
Purpose 1: If you want a new job…
Then the people you are targetting are the people in your industry who are working in other different businesses.
So, am I right in my knowledge that your business is mainly into <what they produce>?
Since I am from <name of your function>, I’m very interested to know how your <name of the function> team looks like?
I’d be interested to know if they have any expansion plans.
While asking questions is one thing, talking about yourself smartly is another.
Purpose 2: If you want to learn more about your competitors in the industry..
Then your target is to meet people from other businesses in your industry and with people who are in related businesses (like suppliers to your industry).
Are you looking into this latest discussion about <whatever is recently important in your industry>?
Don’t you also face delayed payment issues on your invoices?
Do you know anyone from <talk about a competitor’s business>?
So, are you looking to add any new skills to your team?
Purpose 3: If you want to change your industry…
Then the purpose is to meet people from different companies in that industry and to meet different people in the function you specialize in. Different companies operate in different ways and knowledge of them will tell you where you can fit in best, where you can start the easiest.
What does your <name of the department you’d like to work in> team look like at present?
Have you had people in the past joining you from a different background, like mine, for example?
If your situation is different, clarify your purpose and target people before.
Listen attentively and make sure you are talking to people you can like.
Go. Meet new people.