One of the best ways to stand out at any event is to let other people talk. The best way to get other people to speak is to learn the art of asking open-ended questions. When you do that, the people come away from the event feeling heard, understood, and as if they like you a lot.
When people talk about themselves to someone truly interested and listening, it means so much more, as demonstrated by their actions. It is much more valuable and memorable to them.
To focus on asking open-ended questions, you’ll ask them what, how, and why often as they talk, using their own words to ask the questions.
Keep some of these phrases in mind to keep the conversion flowing:
- What was it like to experience that thing you’re talking about?
- What was the best part of that thing you’re talking about?
- What was the hardest part about the thing you’re talking about?
- How did you feel about the thing you’re talking about?
- What brought you to this conclusion about the thing you’re talking about?
- How is this thing you’re talking about similar to this other thing?
- Tell me more about this specific aspect of the topic you mentioned?
- What was the best part of your day today?
- What’s been going well for you today?
Open-ended questions are useful because they allow the person you are asking to give you more than a simple yes or now answer. You’ll get to know people more deeply because you’ll get more information from them to get to know them better.
Yes, I know it can seem kind of backwards to not talk as much at networking events – but trust me the more you listen – the more people will want to listen to you. Plus, you’ll get more information to take the relationship further.
When you start asking questions people need to think about a bit to answer – you’ll see that people are starting to respond to you differently.
And even if you are not a fan of in-person networking – try asking more open ended questions to your spouse or your family – you’ll be surprised at what you learn.