5 Better Questions to Ask at Your Next Networking Meeting

So, you’ve finally landed that big one-on-one networking meeting you’ve been angling for, and now you need to ensure you make the most of every minute you get with your new contact. With a limited amount of time, you’ll want to show up to the meeting as prepared as possible in order to get all your questions answered. Don’t make the common mistake of asking questions you could easily find the answer to elsewhere—either online or from anther contact—and instead opt for these five better questions to ask at your next networking meeting.

1. What do you wish you’d known when you were just starting out?

This question is not only excellent for gaining invaluable insight that isn’t readily available online, it also helps establish a rapport between you and your new contact by personalizing the question and showing genuine interest in that individual’s unique experience. Plus, you’ll be gaining an advantage they wish they would have had when they were in your position. Win-win!

2. What made you choose to work for your current company?

You can always find out why people enjoy working for a particular company, but it isn’t always as easy to discover why someone with the specific job you hope to have in the future chose their current employer over another. Given their extensive experience within the field, the answer to this question can potentially save you from wasting your time working for a terrible company. Of course, it could always go the opposite direction and reveal that you wouldn’t want to work for their current company.

3. If I were interviewing for a job at your company this week, what advice would you give me?

Obviously, you don’t want to make the person feel like you’re angling to move in on their job, but any advice you can get to assist with a future interview would be incredibly beneficial, and it might provide you with an edge over your competitors. Whether it be suggesting honing certain skills they know the hiring managers are looking for, or more simply giving you an overview of the company’s interview process, any information or advice you can get will be valuable.

4. What’s next for you in your career?

Learning their goals can help you map out your own career path, or at the very least provide you with some insight as to where you might end up if you decide to pursue the same occupation. You’ll also be able to gain some insight into the amount of time it will take to end up with the job you ultimately want.

5. Is there anyone else you think I should speak with?

Last but not least, you should always ask if there is anyone else they think you should speak with in order to learn more about the career—or if they know anyone who might have leads on open positions within the field. The more names you can get the better. Ultimately, it means you’ll have more opportunities to network with others in the field of work you hope to break into.

While you will probably have time to ask more than just these five questions, these are a good place to start. However, you should remain conscious that this person is doing you a favor by meeting, and be careful not to inundate them with a flood of queries. Even when the natural flow of conversation leads to you speaking about yourself and your own experiences, you should limit how much you speak and focus primarily on being a good listener and learning all you can from your valuable contact.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market