12 Networking Questions to Make a GREAT First Impression
Inside: 12 networking questions to kick off your next networking conversation and build powerful professional connections.
“It seems like networking is always the answer, but it feels SO inauthentic to me.”
A career coaching client shared this thought with me recently and I TOTALLY get it!
When you think about networking, you often think about one of two things:
1️⃣ The awkward wine and cheese mixers with name tags. Yuck, no thank you.
2️⃣ Reaching out to strangers to ask them to give you a job. Yikes, uncomfortable.
But networking doesn’t have to be yuck or yikes.
It can be about genuine 1:1 conversations and great questions that engage people and teach you a thing or two or twelve! 🤩
What do we even talk about in a networking call?
First things first, if you are feeling stuck thinking about who to reach out to and how, check out this post on building your networking script including the outreach.
Now onto the questions, because that’s what a networking conversation is all about, asking good questions!
With my Career Clarity coaching clients, we could go through an exercise to find the right questions for THEM specifically. Finding the right questions for you (not for Sally down the street or your cousin’s best friend’s accountant) is critical to help you evaluate a role or company based on your criteria.
There are a few questions that tend to show up on people’s lists though so I’m giving you a little peek behind the scenes.
Here we go!
10 Networking Questions that Keep the Conversation (and Your Job Search) Rolling
The Transition Questions
“I saw that you made the transition from X industry to Y industry. What were some of the skills that were most transferable for you?”
“I noticed on LinkedIn that you made the move from X role to Y role. What were some of the steps you took to make that functional transition?”
Why These Questions Work: If you are hoping to make a similar transition, wouldn’t it be helpful to know what skills you should highlight in your resume or elevator pitch? Or what interim steps you could take to get where you want to go? Of course!
Plus this question is about a specific person’s experience so they feel qualified to answer.
The Project Questions
“What projects are you working on right now?”
“What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on at this company?”
Why These Questions Work: Sometimes people will ask “what is your day-to-day like” and the response is usually “it depends!” So instead get more specific and ask about the projects someone is working on within your target role or company. You’ll have a more interesting conversation and you can ask better follow-up questions.
The Culture Questions
“I noticed X is a key value of the company, how do you see that value put into practice?”
“What does your company do to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion?”
Why These Questions Work: It’s been found that 75% of Millennials cite company culture as a top priority when it comes to deciding where they want to work. Makes sense right? So if culture is important to you, don’t simply ask “what’s the culture like here?”
Ask a more nuanced question that shows you have done your research AND will help you evaluate if a culture is a right fit for you.
The Collaboration Questions
“I noticed your company is doing XYZ right now, how does your department contribute to that work?”
“What other departments or team members do you collaborate with on a regular basis?”
Why These Questions Work: If you are exploring working within a particular industry or type of company, there could be other departments or roles you’ve never heard of before. These questions about collaboration help you understand more about the person you are talking to AND how the rest of the company operations.
The Success Questions
“What does success look like to you in your role/department/company?”
“How do you measure success in your role/department/company?”
Why These Questions Work: You don’t just want to get the job, you want to be great at right! So use your networking conversations to help you understand both what success looks like and how it is measured it a company so you can set yourself up to go get it!
This is also helpful because it can be a good tell about culture. If success is measured by how long you stay at the office and autonomous work and flexibility are important to you, this may not be the right match.
The Advice Questions
“If you were me looking to make a transition into this industry/type of company, what are some types of roles you would be considering?”
“This has been so helpful and I’ve loved getting to know you. As I continue to explore a transition into this field/industry/company, who else would you recommend I connect with?”
Why These Questions Work: People genuinely want to help you. They really do! So make it easy for them to help you by being specific with your asks.
When you ask questions near the end of the conversation like these, you are going to be walking away with incredibly valuable suggestions and/or introductions that will snowball your networking and help you accelerate your job search. Who doesn’t want that??
Need more networking questions? Let’s talk!
I hope these networking questions gave you a great jumping-off point so you can feel confident going into your next conversation!
If you could use some more help finding the right questions for YOU, make sure you sign up for my free training, How to Land a Fulfilling Job You Love Without Giving Up the Flexibility You Need.
We’ll talk about the tools I use to help people navigate how to identify the who, what, where, and how of their mid-career transitions. A more fulfilling and flexible career is waiting for you!