Networking Questions for Every Leader
As someone who doesn’t particularly like talking to strangers, networking events (how should I say this tactfully)… Well, networking events were like the spawn of Satan… ok, they just weren’t my favorite place to go. Yet, networking events and hob-knobbing with folks are really helpful as you navigate your career. So, I had to develop a strategy to get through these events. That’s when I discovered…
The Power of Questions
I figured out how to discuss everyone’s favorite topic… themselves!! I developed a list of 12 questions that I armed myself with to help me get through these nerve-racking times. Why did I need these questions? Because it got boring without them. I mean, I can only ask so many people “Where do you work?” and “What do you do?” After a while, I can’t remember the answers anyway. And, if that’s the case, why bother networking?
I wanted to make networking a special experience for me and the folks that I ended up speaking with. I wanted to ask questions that inspired thoughtful answers. My 12 questions are easy to remember when you remember the word sPECial-T. You’ll notice that four of the letters are capitalized. That’s because the capital letters each have two questions associated with them. I actually see the word spelled in my mind and use that to stay on track.
The S stands for success and story. This allows you to start your conversation on a positive note and keep the topic broad so he/she can go wherever they want to go with the conversation and share whatever comes to mind.
“How did you become successful?”
The P is capitalized so it represents two questions that contain P’s… The first one is proud. Again, keeping in positive and helping them to remember the goodness that they bring to the world.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The second P stands for principles. Now that you’ve established how they see their success and what they are most proud of, you want to learn a little more about the guiding principles that they have in their life and leadership.
What are your top 3 guiding principles that have helped you achieve your success?
Now, you already know that great leadership is about execution. Not executing people (although sometimes it may feel like that should be an option ;), but executing our plans to accomplish our purpose. The next question moves from the theoretical to the practical.
How do you ensure execution of the projects and tasks of your team members?
Leaders are also resilient so the second E is all about finding out what keeps them strong in the face of errors. So, the second E is for error.
What’s been your biggest error or mistake and what did you learn from it?
These previous 2 questions can sometimes lead to the most interesting conversations between you and your networking friend. It is how you start to develop trust with one another. This is where real connection takes place. And that brings me to the C’s.
John Maxwell wrote a book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. The two C’s in our questioning has to do with these 2 words.
How do you communicate your vision and purpose?
How do you connect with your team and build trust?
Ok, so we’ve gotten a glimpse at the hows of what they do. Now, let’s shift back to who they are.
The I stands for inspiration. Inspiration literally means to breathe life into. This, again, continues to build trust. You are going beyond the what and the tangible and practical components to the intangible, human experience.
Who inspires you? Where do you draw your inspiration?
Truly successful leaders love to share their wisdom and experience with others. They love to serve others. So, our next letter is A which stands for advice.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? OR
What advice would you give someone aspiring leaders?
Another trait of great leaders is that they are also life-long learners. Find out how your new friend stays on top of the latest and greatest tips and techniques.
What do you do to continually learn and grow your leadership skills?
Finally the 2 T’s. These questions help you to learn a little more about who they are as a human being. These two T’s represent Take Care and Traits.
Leadership can be quite stressful. It’s a balance between the initiatives that you are trying to accomplish and the lives of those human souls that are with you along the journey.
Taking care of yourself is the first job of a leader because when a leader is not well cared for they are much less effective, empathetic and efficient. When a leader is not physically and mentally ready, they can bring the whole team’s performance level down. So, ask your networking friend…
What do you do to take care of yourself?
The last T is about who they are. Not what they do, but who they are.
What are the attributes, traits, and characteristics that have been most important in their success and how did they develop those traits?
Arm yourself with these questions. Practice asking them over and over in your mind so that your brain creates a habit and knows how important these questions are to your career and your life.
By making networking your sPECial-T (specialty) you will not only get great ideas for your own growth and development, you will be helping others to see how special they are and all the goodness they create and have created in the world.
Questions are the key…
to becoming more adept at networking and LEADERSHIP.