Recently I went to a business networking event in London where I met someone who asked me, “What can you do to help my business?”
Direct, honest, confident – but a terrible question! Why?
This is the way I see it:
- I’ve only just met you – I don’t even have a clear idea of what you do or how you do it – so how do I know how I can help?
- I really don’t know if you are a) any good b) trustworthy. I value my reputation and my contacts and I’d need to know a lot more before I can support or recommend you.
- How do I know that this will be a good business relationship – what are you offering?
A much better question to ask when networking is, “What can I do to help your business?”
This is a question which shows generosity, is focused on building a relationship, and building trust. It is also in the spirit of “givers gain” which underpins all effective networking and works through the power of reciprocity which was identified by Dr Robert E Cialdini in Influence: the Science of Persuasion.
As Zig Ziglar said, “If you go looking for a friend, you’ll find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend , you’ll find them everywhere.”
So, what questions will you be asking at your next networking meeting?