Kickstart a Networking Conversation With These 13 Questions

Whether you’re attending a global event, such as the YPO EDGE, or an industry program in your hometown, you want to take advantage of your time to have a meaningful conversation with someone you’re just meeting that goes beyond that first handshake and introduction.

I’ve found that even the most experienced CEOs need a refresher on how to ensure an introductory conversation becomes a real connection.

In my years as a CEO and a member of YPO, I’ve come to realize that some simple icebreakers can be the key to a great first conversation at a business event. Make sure to have some questions in mind the next time you have the opportunity to network with new peers:

  1. What business are you in?
  2. How did you get started in your business?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
  4. What do you think separates you and your company from your competition?
  5. What advice would you give someone just starting out in your industry?
  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 the (______) business?
  8. What avenues have you found to be most effective for promoting your business?
  9. What are the biggest issues facing your business right now?
  10. What are you most optimistic about in the next 12 months for your business?
  11. Can you think of any way I might be helpful for you? Directly or through an introduction?
  12. What are you passionate about?
  13. What is the passion project you are working on this year that you are especially proud of?

I believe conversational and networking skills are something we all should continue to develop throughout our careers. The ability to connect with others, to build and strengthen a network and to learn from those connections is one of the keys to success for any successful business leader.

If you would like to learn more, check out this article on how to read someone’s microexpressions during a conversation.

Scott Mordell has been the CEO of YPO since 2011 and became a member in 1995. His extensive background in varying industries, geographies, types of organizations and business disciplines has helped him develop important leadership lessons and collaboration skills that has led him to success. Prior to YPO, Mordell held leadership positions at Chamberlain Group, HeathCo LLC, Duchossois Industries and Arlington International Racecourse. He holds an MBA from The J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA from Michigan State University.