My buddy Bob Burg, author of the must-read bestselling books Endless Referrals and The Go Giver, says “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, people they know, like and trust.”
One key to quickly establishing this type of connection is showing interest in other people by asking them questions. Burg has developed a series of questions to ask people at networking events that are not sales-oriented in any way. These are fun questions to ask and fun questions to answer.
While you will never need or have time to ask all of his questions during a conversation, Burg maintains it is good to have an arsenal to choose from. Here are his 10 questions:
1. How did you get your start in the widget business?
2. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
3. What separates your company from the competition?
4. What advice would you give someone just starting out in the widget business?
5. What one thing would you do with your business if you know you couldn’t fail?
6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
7. What do you see as the coming trends in the widget business?
8. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business.
9. What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?
10. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?
Burg’s next question is the one that is key in getting the person to feel as if they know, like and trust you. “How can I know if someone I’m talking to would be a good prospect for you?” That final question shows you are concerned about them. You may be the only person who asked them this question during a first conversation.
Then, wrap up the conversation in another surprising fashion: Instead of offering them your business card, ask for one of theirs. Follow up by sending them a thank you in the mail containing your business card.