10 Effective Ice-Breaking Questions

Nancy Roebke
Executive Director
Profnet, Inc.

Whether you go to a Chamber of Commerce event, a PTA meeting, the racquetball court, the local health club, or practically anywhere else, opportunities to network present themselves constantly. But there are fears which present themselves as well. For example, we ask ourselves if we are in a situation where talking business might be considered tacky. Will I be considered a "hard sell" type of salesperson for talking about my business at a social gathering?

Hereís how to overcome that fear- ask questions! NOT sales questions- questions that someone you are meeting for the first time would be happy to answer. Questions about themselves and their business. Questions that allow you to begin a follow-up program which will be appreciated by your new contact, and will hopefully turn that person into a client with lots of referrals.

Youíll notice that the following ten questions are friendly and will tell you something about the way the person thinks. You donít need to ask all ten every time, but you should know them and be able to ask the ones you deem are appropriate for the particular conversation. They are as follows:

  1. How did you get your start in your business?
    Let them tell you their story.

  2. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
    This question will elicit a positive response.

  3. What separates your company from the competition?
    You have offered this person a chance to tell all.

  4. What advice would you give someone just starting in this field?
    Hereís a chance to be a mentor.

  5. What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you couldnít fail?

  6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

  7. What do you see as the coming trends in this field?

  8. What was the strangest or funniest incident youíve experienced in your business?

  9. What ways have you found to be the most effective when promoting your business?

  10. How would you like people to describe how you do business?

Of course we canít ask all these questions on a first meeting like weíre an investigative reporter. They are designed to put a person at ease with you, and be the first step towards feeling like they know, like and trust you.

My favorite question, though, is "What can I do to know if somebody Iím talking to would be a possible client for you?" Learn more about networking! I know everyone would love helping you help them.

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