As a business owner, I used to view coffee meetings and networking lunches as just a to-do; a necessary component of building and growing my coaching and consulting business. Over the years, my perspective has changed. It has evolved into seeing these meetings as another chance to not only learn from someone else, but also to add value to the person with whom I’m meeting.
These days, I look forward to the opportunity to sit down and get to know someone. I approach each situation as a ‘learning session,’ both in terms of what I can learn from the other person as well as offering them something of value.
If you are looking for some easy questions to ask that will help you get to know someone, here’s an excellent list by John C. Maxwell as a starting point:
What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
By asking this question I seek wisdom.
What are you learning now?
This question allows me to benefit from their passion.
How has failure shaped your life?
This question gives insight into their attitude.
Who do you know that I should know?
This allow me to engage with their network.
What have you read that I should read?
This question directs my personal growth.
What have you done that I should do?
This helps me seek new experiences.
How can I add value to you?
This shows my gratitude and desire to add value to them.
From there, it’s really a matter of seeing where the conversation goes and what you would like to learn more about from the other person. When you begin using these questions, you will be pretty amazed at how people respond and truly open up to you. It helps you stand out from the crowd because most people either use the time for small talk or for talking about themselves.
These questions allow you to be strategic in your meetings, to ensure that you’re making the most out of your time together. And, adopting the skill of using more questions is one of the best things you can do as a leader. Questions open the door for new opportunities and increased engagement across the board.
I encourage you to adopt this simple, yet intentional practice for your next meeting. Whether it’s with an employee, a peer or a prospective new client, ask more questions and make yourself truly memorable.
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