By Will Kintish, Business Networking Skills And LinkedIn Authority

Good networkers ask the right questions, listen carefully, respond at the appropriate time and often give away free advice during a conversation. It should never sound like an interrogation. Here are some of the types of questions you can use to provoke particular responses.

Open questions

These are useful in getting another person to speak. They often begin with the words: What, Why, When, Who Where Which and How. They can provide you with a good deal of information as the other person can’t give you a yes / no answer.

Closed questions

These are questions that require a yes or no answer and are useful for checking facts. They should be used with care - too many closed questions can cause frustration and shut down conversation.

Specific questions

These are used to determine facts. For example “How much did you spend on that?”

Probing questions

These check for more detail or clarification. Probing questions allow you to explore specific areas. However be careful because they can easily make people feel they are being interrogated

Hypothetical questions

These pose a theoretical situation in the future. For example, “What would you do if…?’ These can be used to get others to think of new situations. They can also be used in interviews to find out how people might cope with new situations.

Reflective questions

You can use these to reflect back what you think a speaker has said, to check understanding. You can also reflect the speaker’s feelings, which is useful in dealing with tricky or sensitive situations situations.

Reflective questions prompt evaluation of the person’s own behaviour. An example to a young person is, “In the long run, is what you are doing in your own best interests?” If the question is evaded, ask a second time. Follow up with another question that stimulates thinking such as, ”If what you are doing is not getting you what you want, what could you do differently?” If he says he doesn’t know, then you could ask, “What would an extraordinary person do in this situation?”

Leading questions

These are used to gain acceptance of your view – they are not useful in providing honest views and opinions. If you say to someone ‘you will be able to cope, won’t you?’ they may not like to disagree.

You can use a series of different types of questions to “funnel” information. This is a way of structuring information in sequence to explore a topic and to get to the heart of the issues. You may use an open question,
followed by a probing question, then a specific question and a reflective question.

The author of this article is Will Kintish, leading UK authority on effective and confident networking both offline and online. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.kintish.co.uk and www.linkedintraining.co.uk for further free and valuable information on all aspects of networking.

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