The Art of Meaningful Conversation at Networking Events

speakLast week’s burning question was how to start a meaningful conversation at a networking event.   What’s meaningful? According to my clients, who I met at  NAPW’s Global Networking Conference in New York, it’s a conversation that leads to a new business or client relationship.

The coaching moved towards the art of asking questions because the way you ask (a question) determines the response you receive and whether your encounter leads to further discussion or ends with your initial encounter.   The first step to having a meaningful conversation anywhere is being curious.

Be genuinely interested in meeting those you encounter.  Good networking is about building relationships first.  Without mutual trust, affection, curiosity, or interest…business will not follow.  Too often, we focus on our agenda and the “positive outcome” we want for ourselves rather than building relationships.  I agreed to send my Powerful Question guidelines to deepen their learning around effective networking which starts with the art of asking questions.  As I re-read the guidelines, I was struck by how useful these tips are so I’m sharing them with you as well.  Here goes…

Effective questions:

  • Evoke clarity, action, discovery, insight, or commitment.
  • Are direct (best way to get the information you want)
  • Open up the dialogue
  • Do not elicit a yes or no answer
  • Are short
  • May stop the conversation. If this happens, be silent. Give the other person time to collect their thoughts and respond.  You will be amazed with what you learn when you create the open space for someone else to share.

Limit why questions so others don’t feel defensive. When you start with why, responses are more likely to be full of justification rather than exploration.

What’s your most powerful question? Please share. Let’s keep the Meaningful Conversation going by asking the right questions and waiting for answers with genuine curiosity.  Email me for a complete list of my Powerful Question guidelines.  Happy Networking!

About Roseanne

Roseanne has been coaching since 2005, facilitating breakthroughs for clients from Hearst, Polo Ralph Lauren, Scholastic, Time, Inc., Google, Bristol Meyers, Pace, UBS, as well as business owners, entrepreneurs, and non profit executives.
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She has also shared her knowledge of work readiness and the job search process with hundreds of program participants as the job search coach for both Yonkers (Riverfront) public library and Mamaroneck’s Youth Employment Service office since 2010 and as a teacher and board member with Larchmont Mamaroneck Center for Continuing Education.

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