Are you afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger? This may seem terrifying, especially if this person is much older and in an important work or social position. However, being confident and making a good impression during a conversation can sometimes be more powerful than a decent resume. Here’s a tip: Having questions already in mind when you are interacting with important individuals will ease your mind and boost your confidence immensely. In any situation where you are talking with people to whom you need to make a good, lasting impression, keep a kind smile on your face and always have a question in mind to fuel the conversation. Some potential questions you may want to have handy are:
- What line of work are you in?
- How did you get started in this company?
- How long have you worked for the company?
- How long has the company been around?
- Where did you get the idea to start the company? (if CEO)
- What advice do you have for people who want to enter your line of work?
- Where is the company located? Are there multiple locations?
- What did you do previously?
- Where did you attend college?
- What was your major?
- What are the main differences between your current and previous jobs?
- Do you like working for a franchised company (or a private company)?
- What are the entry-level positions with the company?
- What is the time line and possibility of upward mobility in the company?
- What is the hardest and most rewarding part of your job?
You should always approach networking circumstances as a continuous piece of dialogue. It is not the time to be shy and blend into the background. An almost foolproof way to connect with others is to ask questions. Keep in mind most people like to talk about themselves and their accomplishments, especially if it is a business function you are attending. Giving them the time to talk and share not only takes the immediate conversational pressure off you, but it also creates an opportunity for you to learn valuable information. So take control and have some Q and A’s ready to pull out if there is ever a lull in the conversation. Then the most important question after talking for a while is, “Can I have your card?” and then follow that with, “Here’s mine. It was a pleasure talking with you.”