One of the best things a good networker can do is to come up with an arsenal of useful questions. These should be the ones which help you learn more about the other person and perhaps discover ways in which you can help each other.
One of my favorites, and one which gets an inevitably interesting response is:
“So, if I’m chatting with someone, what might they say or do that would tell me that they are the perfect client for you?”
I’ve found that this is a lot better than simply “What is your target market?” In answering the question, the person you are talking with will tell you how to find who they really want. For example, if they told you that they wanted people with back pain, well, you might be able to pick up on that. If instead they say to listen for the phrase “I was out golfing this weekend and, boy, am I sore!” you are much more likely to pick up on that cue or something similar.
One caveat with this one: Most folks haven’t thought about their business this way and they may be a bit flummoxed as to how to respond. This would be a good point to give an example from your own experience. I might say something like “Don’t sweat it. I had to think about this one a bit at first, too. I came up with: If you are at a networking event and you hear someone say ‘I don’t know why I bother coming to these things. I never get anything out of them’. They would probably be a good person for me to talk with.”
You should, of course, already have your own answer for this one, because it’s highly likely that they will turn it around and ask you (which is what you want anyway, right?).
So, how would you respond to the question?