How do you build genuine, profitable relationships? You work at it, stay persistent with your follow-up, and always be authentic. Most importantly, you need to build a good foundation by asking the right questions as you first begin developing the relationship.
If you are new to the area, traveling, trying out a new networking group, looking to get more plugged into a group you currently attend, or you just want to make more connections with people in your community, the key is always to ask questions – and then engage in active listening.
When asking questions, they need to get beyond the standard, “Who are you and what do you do?” Those either have already been answered, or will be without much prodding. As you develop your standard questions to keep in your arsenal, consider that good questions will generally have the following characteristics:
- The topics in the questions should help establish some common ground between you and the person with whom you are talking.
- Questions should require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
- The information involved with answering a question should organically create additional conversations and questions that give you an opportunity to ask for clarification, more knowledge about the topic, or broach other related topics to broaden the scope of the conversation.
- Questions need to be specific yet flexible enough so the person responding can reflect what they enjoy talking about. This means that not all questions should focus just on business, or just on personal topics.
As you begin to engage someone in your repertoire of compelling, meaningful questions for relationship building, you also need to run them through a quick mental vetting process. Ask yourself if the person is willing to engage in a meaningful conversation with you.
If you notice that someone is constantly scanning the room for other people, checking their watch, being aloof or abrupt in their answers, or just not paying attention, don’t take offense, just politely excuse yourself and move on to someone else.
As you find people willing to engage in a new conversation, here are some questions you can include:
- What brought you to the area?
- How did you hear about this group or event?
- What are the best ways you’ve found to get better involved or immersed in the group?
- Where else do you network, or what other groups do you attend within the industry or community?
- What advice do you have for people who are new to this group (or industry, or area…)?
If you find yourself at a table discussion during a “get-to-know-you” segment, you can ask engaging questions that have multiple benefits for you and everyone at the table. Good questions in this type of setting can include:
- What are you currently reading?
- What’s the best advice you have been given in the last 12 months?
- How do you recharge during the day when you’ve hit a wall?
- What is the one thing you would do if you knew you could not fail?
- What is the oddest, funniest, or hardest circumstance you have experienced with a client, and how did you handle it?
As you get to know people better and set up one-on-one appointments with people of interest, this is your opportunity to ask questions that will help you establish a great foundation in which you can continue to build the relationship long after your one-on-one meeting. These types of questions include:
- What is your story?
- How did you decide to do what you do?
- What do you enjoy most about what you do?
- In your business, what is it that takes up the majority of your time?
- What’s your biggest project right now, or what’s the most recent project you’ve completed that you’re most proud of?
- Is there anything you would have done differently on your career path, or advice you would give to someone looking to get in your field?
- What is your favorite client testimonial or story of how you’ve been able to help someone with what you do?
- How would you describe your ideal client, or the characteristics of your favorite people to work with?
- What is it I can do this week that would be most helpful to you and your business?
- Is there anything I can do for you personally that would help make life easier for you?
- What makes you and what you do different from what others are doing in your industry/field/area of business?
- What are some significant changes you’ve seen within your industry over the years?
- How have the needs of your clients changed over the years you’ve been doing this?
- Do you foresee any upcoming trends or changes within your industry, or what clients are asking for?
If you find yourself doing most of the talking, then you’re not asking enough questions and the other person will not feel as engaged in the conversation. To be most effective at building relationships, always be authentic, and make sure you are organic with your questions by letting them flow naturally throughout your conversations.
Remember that there isn’t a question in the world that can compensate for a lack of genuine interest in others. Building strong, authentic, healthy relationships are crucial to ongoing success in life personally and professionally. How you Soar 2 Success is up to you!
As Featured in:
Authored by Elizabeth McCormick