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Networking Questions: What to Ask, and What to Answer

Master the art of networking with our detailed guide at Blinkist! We'll help you ask the right questions, find the correct answers, and make memorable impressions.
by Chris Allmer | Dec 19 2023

Networking isn’t just about showing up; it’s about being prepared to engage effectively with colleagues, employers, or most importantly, strangers at networking events. When you’re equipped with thoughtful questions, you’re more likely to make a memorable impression and build valuable connections.

Below, you will find the reasons why being prepared for networking questions is essential, along with some tips and examples to guide you.

Preparing for Networking Questions: Why It Matters

1. Create a Strong First Impression

In any networking scenario, the first impression can be a deal-maker. By having a set of well-thought-out questions, you show that you are not only prepared but also genuinely interested in the conversation. This approach helps you stand out in a sea of networkers who might rely on clichéd or generic questions.

2. Have Deeper Conversations

Beyond the initial pleasantries, meaningful dialogue is what fosters real connections. Prepared questions can guide the conversation into areas of common interest, allowing for a deeper understanding of the person you are speaking with. This depth is often where professional opportunities and lasting relationships are formed

3. Showcase Your Professionalism

When you ask insightful questions, it reflects on your professional demeanor. It indicates that you take your career and your network seriously and are committed to building relationships that are more than just surface-level.

4. Uncover Opportunities

The right questions can reveal opportunities that might not be visible at first glance. Whether it’s a job opening, a collaboration possibility, or a chance to join a professional group, good questions can open doors that you didn’t even know existed.

5. Build Confidence

Being prepared with questions can also boost your confidence in networking settings, particularly if you’re naturally introverted or new to the scene. Knowing what you want to ask removes some uncertainty and nervousness associated with networking.

How to Craft Effective Networking Questions with Examples

Now, let’s talk about how to ask questions that get people talking and show off your expertise and genuine curiosity. We will explore various types of questions that are particularly effective in networking scenarios.

Open-Ended Questions

These encourage a detailed response rather than a simple yes or no.

1. “What were the major turning points in your career?”
This networking question invites your conversation partner to share their personal career journey and key decisions.

2. “How do you approach challenges and setbacks in your work?”
This question encourages a discussion about problem-solving and resilience.

3. “What do you think is the key to successful collaboration in our field?”
Invites thoughts on teamwork and interprofessional relationships.

Insightful Questions

These 3 networking questions demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and interest in deep topics.

1. “How do you think technological advancements will reshape our industry in the next decade?”
Shows your awareness of tech trends and their potential impact.

2. “What are your thoughts on the recent policy changes in our industry?”
Indicates your knowledge about industry-specific regulations and their implications.

3. “How has the shift towards remote work affected our industry, in your opinion?”
Reflects an understanding of current workplace trends and their industry-specific effects.

Personal Questions

Personal here means professionally personal; these are networking questions that allow individuals to share their experiences and opinions.

1. “What lessons have you learned from your biggest professional challenges?”
Allows for sharing of personal growth and experiences.

2. “Can you share a piece of advice that has profoundly influenced your professional life?”
Seeks wisdom and personal insights that have shaped their career.

3. “Which mentors or role models have had the biggest impact on your professional journey?”
Invites discussion about influences and inspirations in their career.

Industry-Specific Questions

These are tailored to the specific industry of the person you are speaking with and show that you have done your homework.

1. “In your experience, how has [find a specific industry development] changed the way we work?”
Demonstrates your knowledge of specific developments within the industry.

2. “How do you think emerging technologies like [find a specific technology] will affect our industry?”
Shows awareness of technological trends pertinent to the industry.

3. “What are the biggest challenges our industry faces with the current economic climate?”
Indicates your understanding of the economic factors affecting the industry.

Following these tips on networking questions, it’s clear that mastering the art of conversation is a key component of successful networking. For those looking to dive deeper into this skill, Debra Fine’s book The Fine Art Of Small Talk is an excellent resource.

This networking book offers practical advice on how to start conversations, keep them flowing, and build effective networking skills while leaving a positive impression. Read or listen to this Blinkist book summary here:

And to optimize your new networking skills, we’ve also compiled a little collection of real-life scenarios, complete with suggested networking questions and potential answers.

Real-Life Scenarios with Networking Questions and Answers

Scenario 1: Industry Conference

You’re at a conference, surrounded by professionals from your field.

Question: “What session or speaker are you most looking forward to today?”

Answer: “I’m really looking forward to the keynote on [topic]. I think it’s going to provide some interesting insights into [a specific aspect of the industry].”

Scenario 2: After-Work Social Event

You’re at a social event with a mix of people from different industries.

Question: “What’s the most unexpected part of your job that outsiders might not know about?”

Answer: “People might be surprised to know that my job involves a lot of [unexpected aspect]. It’s not all about [common misconception].”

Scenario 3: Online Networking Group

You are engaging in a discussion in an online professional group or forum.

Question: “I’ve noticed you have great insights on [topic]. What are your top resources for staying updated?”

Answer: “Thank you! I usually keep up-to-date through [blogs, podcasts, news sources]. I find them really informative and current.”

And if you’re keen to delve deeper into the art of networking and refine your ability to ask impactful networking questions, Blinkist has a collection that’s tailor-made for you: Networking for a Brighter Future.

The Blinkist Curators created this collection, focusing on the nuances of networking, building connections, and navigating professional events. Explore our collection of the best networking books and begin your journey to becoming a networking pro!

In our journey through the art of networking, we’ve focused on the power of asking impactful questions. But networking is a big topic that covers not only how to do it, but also where to do it and when to do it.

For those at the beginning of their networking adventure or looking to refresh their approach, Blinkist presents a succinct yet comprehensive guide: How to Network: The Best Networking Tips For Beginners In 2024. And as an additional part of our network series, here you will also find the best places to start your networking journey in 2024. Take a look!

As you continue your growth in the art of asking the right networking questions, why not explore more with Blinkist? With over 6,500 titles on networking and professional development, Blinkist makes it easy to absorb key insights from top non-fiction books. Start your 7-day free trial now and boost your networking artistry.

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