Become an Expert Networker by Asking Questions and Listening

Many members of my career mentoring site tell me that they feel awkward at networking events.  “I never know what to say,” is the problem I hear most often.  This article gives you some common sense ideas on how to shine in networking situations.

This is some great advice.  Number 4 — keep the focus on the other person — is the most important, and easiest, to incorporate into your repertoire.  Asking questions, listening and responding appropriately is the best way to keep the focus on the other person.  I use the 2/3 — 1/3 rule.  I do my best to listen two thirds of the time and speak one third.

If you notice, I said “ask questions, listen and respond appropriately,” not just to ask questions.  If you fire off a series of questions the other person will probably feel as if he or she is being interrogated.  On the other hand, if you really listen and respond in a thoughtful manner, you’ll be engaging in a meaningful conversation.

Here’s an example, using an oft asked question.

You: “So what do you do?”

Her: “I work in marketing.”

You: “I think that’s very interesting, what type of products do you market?”

Her: “We sell hair products.  They fall into the consumer packaged goods category.”

You: “I bet that’s interesting.  Consumer packaged goods marketing must be a very competitive field.”

Her: “You’re right, the hair care market is very fragmented, but even a small market share can result in big sales dollars.”

In the example above, you’ll notice that you parroted back some of the words she used.  This demonstrates that you were listening and caught her key words.  You also responded appropriately by asking follow up questions that took the answer to your original question to a deeper level.  You not only learned that the other person works in marketing in the hair care product field.  You learned that she thinks of herself as a consumer packaged goods marketer, and that the hair care market is very fragmented, but lucrative — all because you asked questions, listened and responded appropriately.

Try this approach the next time you’re at a networking event.  It works.  You’ll make more contacts and you’ll brand yourself as a great conversationalist.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.

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