Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Connecting through questions, part of Communication Tips.
- In the business world, questions can give you excellent opportunities for building rapport with a new contact, building a relationship with an existing contact, and most importantly, building your credibility as a professional. Say, for example, you attend a cocktail hour at a conference where executives or clients representing several companies are present. To make a good impression, you hopefully have done some homework, or you have attended portions of the conference so you share similar context with the conversationalists.
Here's some tips to help each question-based conversation create a positive impression of you. Start with a positive comment about the person, their company, or something you both have heard at the conference. This question warm-up will show that you are interested, and that you've done your homework. For starters, keep your questions indirect. For example, you can say, "The keynote speaker drove home "a message of time management. "How do you train for that in your division?" Asking direct questions too soon, for example, "Um, how did you decide to grow in this market?" well that may give the perception of you being too aggressive in your approach.
A side note here on style, some industries expect directness and efficiency, so approach accordingly. Ask open-ended questions to allow your listener to elaborate on the topic and give you further information. For example, "Mr. Hodge, tell me more about that. "So, how was that decided?" Ask questions that go beyond basic knowledge, showing that you have an understanding of the company and the industry. For example, if someone tells you that they work for a known pharmaceutical company, possibly ask, "What's the hottest area "for research and development?" versus asking, "Tell me all about the drugs "that you have on the market." Mind your nonverbals.
Giving a positive impression during your question-asking period involves standing tall, maintaining open body language by keeping your hands comfortably by your sides, and not fidgeting. Avoiding up-talk, the noticeable question pitch that some people place at the end of a sentence? Avoiding fillers such as, "Um, like, ah, so, so you know." Finally, when the other person is speaking, actively show that you're listening. Nod, maintain eye contact, smile, repeat part of the question, take mental notes, use verbal encouragers such as, "I see, "hhmm, very interesting." Whether you're asking questions at a one-on-one conversational setting at the office, a networking event with people you just met at a conference, or a formal Q and A session at the end of the presentation, use them, and build your credibility.
Focus your question exchange on the other person. Show that you've done your homework, and most importantly, use questions to help you build a relationship.
- Understanding introversion and extroversion
- Persuading people
- Negotiating your needs
- Making small talk
- Saying no
- And more…
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