4 Networking Questions to Avoid14th October 2015 | George Atkins
Finding networking opportunities, either through modern or contemporary means, is crucial if you are ever going to be wholly successful in your career, more so if that career is based around effective communication with people. It is the way in which contacts are created, paths are forged in industries and how you get to understand your target audience more distinctly. However, if you aren’t careful then these contacts can be lost as quickly as they are gained in business, usually by asking the wrong type of questions during interviews and correspondence or by acting unprofessional and giving someone cause for concern. So to help you avoid this and to help develop your networking skills, we have assembled 4 networking questions that you should avoid at all costs!
“What Does Your Company Do?” This question insinuates a lack of basic networking skills and understanding of your contact; some level of background research should always be carried out before meeting them for the first time! A quick Google search of a contact or their business should provide you with enough information, preventing any future embarrassment. However, if you have forgotten to do any research, keep it zipped! You don’t want to let on that you haven’t looked into their company and they may very well tell you themselves on a first meeting anyway. If you want to get a hint about your contact’s area of expertise, try asking them “what areas are you excited to move into in the near future?” This will hopefully open up the topic for discussion, as well as any further networking opportunities and questions, enabling you to gain an insight into what your contact wants to explore further and makes you appear to be an interested potential partner or employee.
“Do You Actually Know Anyone Important?”
Surely this is a no-brainer for most of you but asking someone if they have any “better” business contacts is one of the worst networking questions you can ask. Nobody wants to hear that they are simply being used as a step on a networking ladder to reach someone else; it’s demeaning and pretty insulting! Even if your intention is to use a contact to help further your career, maybe approach it in a more tactful way by applying some of your finely-tuned networking skills, first establishing a healthy business relationship with said person or company, before going on to explain that you wish to move into a certain industry, but have a “lack of contacts at the moment”. This way you aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes whilst coming across as driven and ambitious at the same time, building your contact base, managing networking opportunities effectively and developing networking skills whilst maintaining strong ties with an individual who may be helpful further along the line.
“Can You Do My Mate a Favour and Sort Him an Interview?”
Resumes are not used very frequently in the United Kingdom, but their use in the USA is wide-spread and serves as one of the most popular forms of application document, and resumes are sometimes interchangeable with CVs in certain countries (namely Australia, South Africa and India). However, resume’s are a good option for those visiting job fairs or posting via job agencies, as they allow you to provide a concise list of relevant achievements/ experiences that can enable you to make a good impression quickly.
“How Much Do You Earn in a Year?”
Unless you are trying to persuade an employer to give you a raise or applying for a new job whose salary depends on your current income, asking what someone earns is a big no-no. Most people consider this personal information, which does not concern other people and asking this question when exploring networking opportunities in business is unnecessary and untactful; especially if you are trying to forge positive working relationships with someone. The same can be said of politics or religion, it’s usually best to only discuss matters directly related to your business relationship with a contact; anything else could majorly impact on the effectiveness of your networking skills.