In this blog you’ve often heard me talk about the importance of asking questions. Finding out about the other person is a vital aspect of your networking practice. Remember, though, in any conversation, both parties should be talking about the same amount. Of course, you want to learn about them. That’s how you are going to find ways to help them. Just as important, though, is that you need to let them learn about you.

Then they can find ways to help you.

In order to do this, though, you need to know what the answers are to a few questions. In particular, the ones you usually ask the other person (because they are likely to mirror the questions right back at you). So, what information should you be prepared to give out when asked? Here’s a short list.

  • Who are you? What do you do?
  • Who do you serve? Who are your clients specifically? Local, regional, national, or global? Small, medium, or large? Plastic or paper?
  • What do you want? A referral? An introduction to a specific person? A speaking engagement?
  • What do you enjoy doing? You have a hobby or two, right?
  • Where are you going? What are your dreams? Your goals? Business or personal.

Now, one caveat on all of this. Keep the answers simple — no jargon — and keep them short. Pretend you are talking to a seven year old. If they would either walk away in boredom or just look at you in confusion, you need to work on the answer. Save the erudite, polysyllabic responses for your memoirs. Right now you’ve got at most ten seconds before you lose your audience.

If you want to write out your responses to these questions, be sure to read the answers out loud. There’s nothing worse than sounding like you’ve scripted your responses, even if you have.

Remember that giving is only half of the equation. You must also be willing to receive. In order to do that, though, you are going to have to make sure you know enough to share who you are with others.

Briefly and clearly.

Photo credit: prakhar