“Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
– e.e cummings
When my son was three, I asked him an unusual question.
I didn’t expect a compelling answer. Not even close, I mean, he was three, drank from a sippy cup and all his shoes had velcro fasteners. But I’d been reading about the significance of early memories and wondering how far back he might be able to remember. So, I suddenly heard myself asking an unlikely, but rather beautiful question:
“Do you remember being born?” I asked as we cuddled together at the end of the day.
“Yes,” he replied. “It was like a red flood.” Then he took a sip of water spiked with apple juice from his red plastic sippy cup adorned with tiny blue trucks.
I was astonished. But it reinforced a truth about questions – ask a deeper one and you’ll get a deeper answer. Even from a three-year old.
As a coach I’ve witnessed how transformative questions can be. I’ve seen client’s lives change simply by hearing themselves answer a potent question.
As an introvert networker I can’t stand small talk – because it is just that, small. But I’ve come to understand that good questions can bypass that and often lead to engaging and meaningful connections.
Maya Angelou believed that, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
These questions illicit emotions and stories and will encourage people you network with to remember you. And you’ll remember them, too.
So here you go – at your next networking event go big, be brave and ask bold questions!
Why Eleven? Because being slightly over-prepared rarely fails anyone.
- What’s been the highlight of your week? What’s been most challenging?
OK, so technically this is two questions, but the point is, asking a more specific clarifying question instead of the status quo propels the discussion into a more authentic and meaningful interaction right from the start.
- Tell me a story about what led you to become a ____________?
People love to tell stories! Especially when it connects to why they do what they do. So go ahead, ask for a story and you will surely receive one.
- What are you most passionate about in your work?
Honestly, this question is a gift to whoever you ask it to. Reconnecting with why we do what we do and being prompted to say that out loud is always a positive and might lead to unexpected insights from the person you ask – and they will surely thank you for it.
- Who is your ideal client?
Great one because you will get to learn who would be a perfect referral for them and at the same time show that you are truly interested in supporting their mission.
- What do you wish you didn’t have to do as a business owner/professional/leader?
You can learn a lot about a person by hearing what they really don’t like doing. Who knows, it might end up being something that you can uniquely help them with.
- What sets you apart from others in your field?
This provides an opportunity to highlight accomplishments and experience and recognize how they are different from their competition.
- If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
A favorite among Life Coaches for a reason. This questions forces you to look past fears and current obstacles and imagine what you’d be doing if those things were removed. This question often provokes surprising answers!
- If you could remove just one obstacle, what would it be?
A good follow up to the previous question, it encourages clarity towards what is truly standing in the way.
- Who do you most admire in your field?
Recognizing our mentors and sharing that can foster meaningful discussion and you might learn that you admire some of the same people.
- Was there an event in your life that shaped what you do today?
Often major life events lead us to make bold decisions. This question often initiates a compelling story.
11. Could you tell me more about…?
Asking someone to elaborate on a topic shows that you are listening intently and truly interested in who they are.
…Wishing you happy asking!