curveball questions

6 Questions That Help You Cut Through the Small Talk When Networking

Repetitive small talk and ordinary questions are the white noise of professional networking. Unfortunately, if you want to make a lasting and positive impression, you need to cut through the traditional small talk. Make a better impression and have more interesting conversations when you’re networking by asking these 6 questions.

1. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this year? This question prompts the other person to reflect on something pivotal and positive. It also allows them to answer in a wide variety of ways, and they could bring up something that furthers the conversation or aligns with or own areas of interest or expertise.

2. What are you looking forward to? From TV shows to the next big game to a tech conference, people are always looking forward to something. Why not talk about it? One of the best ways to make lasting professional connections is to relate to someone’s non-work related interests. Asking this question will help you understand what those interests are and, if you share them, you can pipe up and discuss it together!

3. Why did you choose your profession? Asking, “what do you do?” is pretty standard in networking conversations. But, if you ask this as a follow-up, you will learn about several different layers including people’s values, what motivates them, and whether they feel their current job is their calling.

4. What part of your job is the most exciting right now? Job responsibilities are always shifting and changing, but you also want to keep the conversation positive. That’s why asking this question can steer the conversation in the right direction, allow you to both talk about the more exciting aspects of your jobs at the moment, and allow you to congratulate them on accomplishments or ambitious projects they’re taking on.

5. What are you reading at the moment? From getting great book recommendations to relating over the authors and books you both read, this question is a great one to ask when the conversation is starting to slow down.

6. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only watch 5 movies, what would they be? Hypotheticals are fun and their answers are informative. Asking this question will give you more insights on each person’s interests but they’ll also help you have a fun, light-hearted, positive conversation that is more memorable than most.

Cut through the typical networking small talk and ask these 6 interesting questions to keep the conversation positive and memorable. Building a solid professional network doesn’t have to be challenging and, with these 6 questions, you’ll form more memorable connections in first-time networking conversations.