“What do you do?” is the typical question I get at most business networking events. The standard response that I get from most involves their name, position and company. By the end of the event, at least for me, I’m not able to recall many people. Similarly, asking “how long have you been fulltiming it” or “where are you from” was equally forgettable at this event.
What I see is an opportunity to make the conversation far more interesting by changing your opening question, your answer or both. We remember people as people, meaning their hobbies, family, etc. We don’t remember people’s names and jobs, but rather we remember things about people.
In a business networking setting, I like to ask, “what’s your story?” It’s a great open-ended question that gives your responder a number of ways to respond. They are going to go either the personal or professional route. Even that subtle choice gives you some idea about what this person is about.
As a fun activity during my networking seminar, I paired off people and asked them to share their most memorable holiday experience with each other. Although I can’t remember all their names, but I do recall the faces and their stories. One liked to go caving, one got sick during a trip to Australia, and another snuck down to unwrap, peek, and re-wrap their Christmas presents.
The next time you have an opportunity to network with someone new, experiment by asking a different question to open up the conversation. While I like “what’s your story”, you might find a better one to use. I think you’ll find the responses you get more interesting and more memorable.
Keep telling your story,