People who are new to networking often worry that they won't ask the right questions. Will they come off as boring as they fumble through "so what do you do?' or overreach with a more probing "what was the best part of your weekend?" While there is a fine line between stale and stalker that depends much on relationship and individual style, I encourage you to network like a high school student. Are you cool enough?
Last weekend I attended a program for young entrepreneurs*. About 50 high school and college students attended, listened as founders told the story of their ventures and sampled products manufactured by people their own age. Young people are great at dreaming big, eating FroYo and snapping selfies. A little more nervous-making was the "networking" portion of the afternoon. Not unlike some of their adult counterparts, they weren't sure how to approach someone they didn't know or what questions to ask once they did. So we primed the pump, placing networking questions around the room on colorful Post-It notes.
Not only were these good conversation starters, they led to more in-depth conversations between students (and even some students and adults - gasp!) than the typical "what's your favorite class?" or "what is your job?". So here I offer networking questions for high schoolers and encourage you to jot some down for the next time you're looking for something better than "so what do you do?":
- Who is someone that inspires you?
- Where is your dream vacation?
- What is your favorite quote?
- What would you do with $1,000,000?
- What's the best part of your job?
- If you had a year off, what would you do?
- What is the last great book you read?
*be sure to check out #ProsperNext, it's pretty cool.