Questions to Ask At A Networking Meeting
Much has been written about how to expand your contact network, how to set-up a networking meeting, and how to structure the networking discussion. No matter how strictly you follow the meeting agenda, however, there should be time left for “general conversation.” This is how you will build rapport and learn a great deal from your networking partner. So, what sorts of topics should you focus on, and what kinds of questions should you ask?
About the industry: * What are the major challenges facing this industry today? * Is the field continuing to grow? * Where do you believe the main opportunities lie in this field? * Are there too many or too few people entering the field? * Why do people leave this industry?
About the work: * Can you describe a typical workday at your company? * What skills are required in your position? * What parts of your job do you find most challenging? * How would you describe the corporate culture? * What are the primary challenges facing the organization?
Skills and experience: * What educational preparation would you recommend to someone who wants to advance in this field? * What qualifications do you seek in a new hire? * How do most people enter this profession? * What do you think my experience would qualify me for in this sort of company? * What kinds of companies do you think could take full advantage of my skills?
Fitting in: * Does the company have a clear and consistent message regarding mission and purpose? * How well do you think I would fit in with this kind of company? * What personal and professional attributes are essential for success here? * How do you remain aligned with the company’s main business objectives? * What sort of behavior is rewarded; and frowned-upon?*
Money and advancement: * What would be a reasonable salary range in this field for a person at my level? * What is the advancement potential in a company like this? * What kind of training and background do most senior executives have here? * Beyond base salary, what other financial incentives are typically provided? * Does the company support employees’ continuing education and professional training?
More information: * Where can I get up-to-date information on industry issues, salaries, employers, etc.? * What industry-specific websites, journals and associations should I be aware of? * What other companies in this field would you recommend I research? * Whom should I contact at those organizations? * May I mention your name when I contact the individuals to whom you are referring me?
In addition to preparing questions to ask your networking partner, be prepared to answer her questions as well. Although a networking meeting is NOT a job interview, the contact may have a future opening in mind at her company or another organization. If this is the case, she may ask you preliminary questions during this networking meeting. So, always be prepared!