Top 72 Networking Questions To Always Keep In Mind
So you've read up on networking for a job. You have your calendar fully scheduled out with networking events. But what networking questions will you ask once you're there?
Most people are a little nervous when attending networking events. Particularly if it's your first time, you can get tongue-tied when talking to new people. If you're between jobs and networking to try to find a new one, this may add even another layer of anxiety to the whole thing. Having a stash of handy networking questions will prepare you to take on the world (at least the world of your networking calendar).
But first, what is networking?
What Is Networking?
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Networking is the practice of interacting with other people for the purpose of forging a mutually beneficial relationship. There are several types of networking. One is industry networking. If you've ever attended a conference or seminar for your employer, you've probably engaged in industry networking. Furthermore, you may have even more practice than you realize asking networking questions. You probably met people from all over the country, or state, who work in the same industry that you do.
Another type of networking is the kind that you do when you're conducting a job search. Ideally, you've been networking while you were still employed, so you'll already have a good idea of the kind of people you'd like to get to know. However, many people neglect networking until they really need it. If you're that person, that's OK. The best time to start was a year ago. The second best time to start is right now. Moreover, preparing a list of networking questions will get you going on the right path.
Why Networking Is Important
In a LinkedIn study, the company found that 35 percent of people surveyed said that they found a new opportunity because of a casual conversation on LinkedIn. And that's only through networking online. Imagine the effect networking can have on your career if you meet people in person and allow them to get a feel for your enthusiasm and attitude.
The old adage "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is only partially correct. Honestly, it's both what you know and who you know. However, you can have all of the skills in the world, but if you don't put yourself out there, it's unlikely your dream job will discover you.
Furthermore, networking events are an ideal place to showcase your soft skills -- the interpersonal skills that show people how well you conduct yourself and how well you get along with others. Showing up with your A-game on and being prepared with some great networking questions will ensure that you will ace this networking event.
How the Right Networking Questions Can Help You
No matter how much you prepare, or how much you practice your best smile in the mirror, it's still intimidating to walk into a room full of people where you don't know anyone. And then you're expected to converse and be bright, charming, and intelligent? Here's a tip that will change everything for you:
If you're a good listener, that's what people will remember about you. The key is to ask networking questions and let them do the talking.
People enjoy talking about themselves. Furthermore, they like to feel that you have a genuine interest in what they have to say. If you're the person who goes in asking sincere questions, you'll be the one they remember.
If someone gets interrupted when answering a question from you or someone else, ask them to "please finish what you were saying." It will make them feel that what they were saying has value to you.
You'll learn new things
Here's a bonus that comes from asking good networking questions. Not only will you make someone else feel important, but you'll actually learn a lot. Although these questions give you something to talk about, they will actually help you learn things that can benefit you.
The Best 72 Networking Questions
We've broken these awesome networking questions up into categories. This will help you nail the entire networking event experience, from introductions to getting their business card.
Remember that while you're attending network events to develop relationships that will help you, you're there to offer help as well as seek help. You may be a seasoned networker, but there will be people there who are new to networking. Be as helpful to other people as others were to you when you first began attending networking events.
Icebreaker networking questions
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These are the questions you want to ask when you first arrive at the event, or when you first introduce yourself to your new acquaintances.
1. What do you do for a living?
2. How long have you been in this field?
3. Which company do you work for?
4. Do you enjoy your work?
5. How did you get into this field?
6. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Networking questions about their education/training
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7. What sort of education, degree, or certification do you need to work in your industry?
8. Which education and training did you need for doing the job you're currently doing?
9. Is it possible to break into your field without a degree?
10. Can someone work in your field with a different degree but with relevant work experience?
11. What degrees would you recommend for working in your industry?
12. Which schools/trade schools/universities would you recommend for solid training in your industry?
Networking questions about their career path
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13. What are your future career plans?
14. Can you describe your career path to date?
15. Do you think your career path is representative of most people in similar positions?
16. If you had a chance to do your career path all over again, would you do anything differently?
17. What advice do you wish you had been given when you were first starting out in your career?
Networking questions about their current job
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18. What's your favorite part of your job?
19. What type of projects are you working on right now?
20. Describe your typical day for me.
21. What do you enjoy most about your current position? Least?
22. Could you share with me one of the main challenges you face in your position?
23. Do you have a lot of supervision, or do you mostly self-report?
Networking questions about their industry
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24. What do you like about this industry?
25. Are there specific skills that are needed to work in this industry?
26. Is there anything you specifically dislike about this industry?
27. Have you seen any changes in your industry in the last few years?
28. Do you have any predictions for changes that are coming up in your industry in the next few years?
29. Where do you see your industry five years from now? Ten years from now?
30. What trends do you think will develop in your industry in the near future? The distant future?
31. Are there any industry groups in which you participate?
32. What's the employment outlook in your field?
33. Specifically, what skills do you think are most essential for success in your industry?
34. What advice do you wish you had been given when you were first starting out in this industry?
Networking questions about their company
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35. What's the culture like at your company?
36. How does your organization make sure they stand out above their competition?
37. What do you know about your company's competition?
38. Where do you see your company five years from now? Ten years from now?
39. What are the biggest challenges facing your company?
40. Can I get a tour of your facility?
This question is appropriate if the person works at a place like a factory or distribution center, not so much if it's only an office.
41. Describe a typical day at your company.
42. Does your company offer paid internships? Unpaid internships?
43. Would your company allow me to do a half- or full-day of job shadowing with someone at your company?
44. Does your company accept volunteers?
This question is only applicable if their company is a company that serves others or is a non-profit.
45. Are there ever any temporary or summer jobs available at your company?
46. How is performance evaluated at your company?
47. Does your company encourage and/or provide professional development opportunities?
Networking questions about working conditions at their company
48. How many hours per week do you work?
49. Is the amount of hours per week you work the typical amount as most people who work for your company?
50. How much autonomy does your company allow in terms of what you're working on?
51. Do employees at your company work with a lot of supervision, or are they expected to be self-directed?
52. In what ways does your company value a balance between home and family?
53. Do your job and other jobs at your company have a lot of travel opportunities?
54. How progressive is diversity awareness at your company?
55. What is the makeup of employees at your company in regards to male and female and diversity?
Networking questions that aren't necessarily work related
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These are questions that are appropriate mostly at a general networking event that's not specific to an industry. However, it can also be useful if you're at an industry-specific event. It depends on the rapport you've developed with the person you're speaking with and the direction the conversation has taken. Typically, these are the kind of questions people love answering. It allows them a chance to give you a glimpse of who they are as an individual.
56. What is the one thing you're most passionate about at the moment?
57. Can you share the next big thing coming up in your path?
58. What's your story?
59. What big challenges do you see coming down the line for you?
60. Had you not chosen the path you did, what kind of job would you be doing right now?
61. What's on your reading list?
62. Are there any websites you recommend?
Miscellaneous networking questions
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63. Are there any other networking groups or events that you attend?
64. Do you belong to any professional associations or orders?
65. Which associations or orders do you feel are most important to be a part of or belong to?
Questions for asking their advice
For all of these questions, you're asking them for advice and assistance that may cost them some of their time. Moreover, you must always be very clear that you respect their time. Never be in a rush or have a deadline for them getting back to you on something. Also, be attuned to their body language. Do they really seem to welcome helping you? Alternatively, are they reluctant and hedging? Don't be pushy. There is always someone else who will be willing and eager to help.
Furthermore, this is important:
Don't make them feel that you're using them to get a job, an introduction, or anything else. You're asking for their feedback or assistance as a fellow professional who has more experience than you do. Also, the networking event where you met this person isn't generally the best time for them to help you with things like going over your resume. Always be clear that you're hoping for help at some time in the near future, not "right now."
66. Are you willing to review my resume and cover letter and give me advice on how to improve it?
Make it clear that you respect their time and that you're not sending their resume so that they will help you find a job either within or outside of their company. This is a request from you to a fellow professional for them to simply review your resume and give their opinion on it.
67. Can you help me with brainstorming some new ideas?
68. Will you help me weigh the pros and cons of school/job/industry/company (whichever it is you're seeking their guidance on)?
Always preface these questions with "Can I ask your advice about something?" or "Can I get your opinion on something?" People enjoy being asked for their advice or opinion.
69. Would you or someone at your company do an informational interview with me? Perhaps over lunch or coffee?
If you request an informational interview with someone, and they accept, you should be prepared to pay the tab if you meet for coffee or lunch.
70. Which other fields or jobs would you suggest I research before I make a final decision about my career path?
71. Will you go over some sample interview questions with me at a later date?
72. If there anyone you'd recommend I reach out to for more information? And when I reach out to them, may I tell them that you referred me?
Don't ask for an introduction. They may offer it, but it's not appropriate to ask at this phase of the game. It comes across as you using them to get an introduction to someone else.
Bonus section: a couple of don'ts and questions to never ask
1. Don't ask about their marital status. Regardless of how harmless the question may be, it may be construed as a romantic interest, unfortunately. What you can do is ask (as indicated in previous sections) how they juggle family and career. If they open up about their life partner, you can perhaps ask a few questions. However, don't initiate this discussion.
2. Avoid asking how much money they make. It's rude and unprofessional. You can ask what the salary range is for various jobs in their industry, but keep it broad rather than specific. Furthermore, don't ask how much positions at their company pay.
3. Don't ask them if they'd like to go somewhere after the event. It can be misconstrued. Instead, follow up with an email.
4. Don't use this time to set up a future meeting with them. They're there to network. You can ask about this in your follow-up email.
How to Follow up After Networking Events
First, as soon as you get to your car or home, jot down something about the person on the back of the business card they gave you. This will help you to make your follow up with them more personal. Even if you think you'll remember, write a quick note.
Second, one to three days after a networking event, take the time to email every single person you got business cards from and tell them how much you appreciated meeting them.
When meeting new people, ask them how they'd prefer to be contacted. Most prefer email, but some people may prefer a text or phone call. Write down their preference on the backs of their business cards.
Third, customize the email. If you followed our advice and jotted down something personal about them, you'll find it easier to do this. Here is a sample of what you should say.
It was such a pleasure meeting you at the XYZ Networking event. I wish you the best of luck with that promotion you're going for. Let me know if you'd like to get together sometime for coffee.
Fourth, send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Be sure to add a note to it. Something like "It was great meeting you last night" will suffice.
Last, let it go after this. Don't bug them. Let them be the next to respond. If you don't hear from them again, it's appropriate to send another email in a month or so asking to meet for coffee or lunch. Above all, don't be pushy. There are plenty of people who will be glad to hear from you and enjoy more networking with you. Don't chase after the ones who are too busy to respond.
Wrapping it Up
A few questions for wrapping up with the person you've networked with:
Would you like to keep in touch? Is there anything I can do to help you meet your goals?
And finally, thank them in a specific way. For example, instead of just saying "thank you" or "I hope to see you again soon," say "I really appreciate you sharing so much with me about your career path. It was very informative."
Now you're surely a networking ninja! What's next? Get out there and get to networking! Good luck, and remember, be a professional in all that you do.