Great Opening Question 03/21/11

A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. When you meet someone in a networking environment you should ‘listen’ more than you ‘talk’ (especially if it is the first time you’ve met). Consequently, in books like The 29% Solution and Networking Like a Pro, I’ve written a lot about the kinds of questions you should ask when you meet someone for the first time.

Recently, I was at a networking event and, at the end of the conversation, someone asked me a question that no one has ever asked me before at a networking meeting. She asked, “What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you today?”

I love that question because it is so positive and unique.  It made me stop focusing on anything other than the question at hand and required me to be completely present in the moment because I truly had to think about what the greatest thing was that had happened in my day so far.  At the time, I shared what came to mind with the woman who asked me the question.  However, it’s interesting to note that today, many months later, what I remember most is that question . . . not whatever “amazing” thing happened to me that day.

If you have a great opening question, I’d love to hear it. In the comments section, share a stand-out question that you, or someone you’ve met, has asked at a networking event.

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27 Responses to this article

Kennon Fort March 21, 2011 Reply

Great post! I am a big fan of networking myself and have begun to position myself to facilitate networking events later this spring. The question I’ve been using the most is best asked upon getting a one’s business card and flipping it over to write down a few short notes of their responses to you. Often the sequence begins by saying to the other person, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m very interested in you and your business.” Then comes the question, “How can I or those in my network help you with your biggest problem or challenge you’re facing today?” After recording a few short notes on the back of their card, it also proves worthwhile to follow-up with them the next day. By then, you’ve built up a great sense of reciprocity such that they will want to help you!

Ann Vertel March 21, 2011 Reply

I like to ask, “What is the next big thing you are looking forward to?” or “What do you do for fun?”
On occasion I will ask a married woman, “How did your husband propose?” (they always smile and love telling that story)
I ask couples, “So, how did you two meet?” (they always smile, then look at each other and laugh, and then take turns filling in the details of the story).

Ann Vertel March 21, 2011 Reply

…and on a business note, I like to ask, “What do you or your business need in the next 30 days?” and “What brought you here today?”

Sheldon Penner March 21, 2011 Reply

I love it when networking focus on the other person rather then myself. I am just now reading (listening) Bob Burg’s book “Endless Referrals: and the “Go-Giver” and he has some great questions in there to ask the other person.

Andrew March 21, 2011 Reply

I always ask – What do you need?

Alice Heiman March 21, 2011 Reply

In Reno, I ask, “What do you love most about living in Reno.” If I am talking to salespeople I like to ask, “How did you choose sales as a career?” and for small business owners, ” How did you get started in that business?”

Jason @ REI Capital March 22, 2011 Reply

This is a good one. Get them talking about something they love people love talking about things they love right?

Linda Ryan March 21, 2011 Reply

My favorite (and, I believe, very effective) networking question comes from Bob Burg’s “Endless Referrals.” HOW CAN I KNOW IF SOMEONE I’M TALKING TO WOULD BE A GOOD CLIENT FOR YOU?”

Jason @ REI Capital March 22, 2011 Reply

Linda this is one of my favorite ways to open a conversation too. It shows that you are not just selflessly promoting but you are willing and excited to help and utilize “givers gain”

Linda Ryan March 23, 2011

Really walking the talk!

Gil Pizano March 23, 2011 Reply


Just like Jason’s comment, this is also one of my favorites because it really shows that you actually care about helping the person you are speaking with!

Thank you for sharing!


Linda Ryan March 23, 2011

It really is a great question. So far, I’ve never had anyone ask it to me in that way. Most networkers just ask “so what do you do?” Our way really is so much more interesting and interested :o)

Jason @ REI Capital March 22, 2011 Reply

One of my favorites is to ask them about what they like to do in their free time. You can really connect with someone on this level and find you may have more in common than you think.

Magadhi Bam March 23, 2011 Reply

Coincidentally, that is one of my fav questions too to ask while networking : HOW CAN I KNOW IF SOMEONE I’M TALKING TO WOULD BE A GOOD CLIENT FOR YOU?”: and the other question I would normally ask is , WHAT IS THE ONE BEST THING YOU LIKED ABOUT TODAYS MEETING ? Both these questions leave the person on a positive note and they are excited to tell you how they feel !!!

Magadhi Bam March 23, 2011 Reply

As Jason rightly said , people love talking about themselves !

Farzad Wafapoor March 23, 2011 Reply

It depends on the context of the conversation. But in general, I normally ask “what is your #1 main challenge (or headache) that you would like to resolved?”

Mindy Bohannon March 24, 2011 Reply

I like to ask them “If you hadn’t decided to come to this event, where would you be, what would you be doing instead?” Time is precious and its good to hear what else they value.

Jason @ REI Capital March 28, 2011 Reply

I love this one MIndy! I will use it at my next networking event.

Tom Doiron March 25, 2011 Reply

How would you describe your very best customer or client to me?

KEN CHIN ( MALAYSIA) March 26, 2011 Reply

Life’s questions are at times better than all the solutions we can get . To have a question in response to a question brings more value to the person asking it or to the person at the other end of the question .That’s why the question ,’What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you today?’ packs so much VALUE in it. Cheers

Ivan Misner March 29, 2011 Reply

These are great questions everyone. Keep them coming!

Jason @ REI Capital March 29, 2011 Reply

Her is one that I’ve been experimenting with and have had some great success with lately…

“What did you do last weekend?”

I’ve found people are taken by surprise however LOVE to talk about this… Typically what people do on weekends is what they are truly passionate about.

You can then quickly identify and relate with almost anyone and find out what is MOST important to them. Try it.

Stewart Male April 6, 2011 Reply

What do you like most about what you do ? … and after of course … dislike ? … the dislike comments list can be a great refferal assist !

Patty Sherin April 27, 2011 Reply

I heard a good one, today. HOW DO YOU DECOMPRESS?

Wayne Wallace May 3, 2011 Reply

Great post! I’m using this topic for my BNI meeting tomorrow. I’ll report back with any new questions that people come up with.

Joshua February 15, 2013 Reply

This was great, i love it. Thanks

duarte cardoso October 29, 2013 Reply

What´s your name, and what really you?
In my recente experience of BNI, people i´ve repair that people don´t really no your name and what you really do. That´s a simple question, and very open one.

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