After serendipitously crossing paths as guests on the same radio program on day—Judy and I having a passion and love for networking—we naturally connected with each other. Judy has graciously agreed to grace us with her expertise in a series of guest blog posts. Every Wednesday January 7-February 11, I’ll post one of Judy’s tidbits that will all make us better professionals.
Three Golden Questions to Create Deep Business Relationships
In business, we’re meeting new people all the time. You chat or enter into a
discussion, and then you may decide that you want to pursue the relationship.
The normal procedure is to exchange business cards and promise to follow up. But I
believe that this concluding moment of your first meeting is a “golden” opportunity
to (1) create stronger connection, and (2) give and receive greater value that can
benefit you both.
Before you leave any meeting or encounter, you always should ask what I call the
Three Golden Questions.
First, “How can I help you?” This gives you an opportunity to add value immediately
with a suggestion, a referral, or an opportunity, and it will establish you as a giver
and potentially someone they want to know.
This question is particularly powerful if you can place your help in the context of
something the other person considers important. If she’s been talking about hiring
new salespeople, ask, “Can I put you in touch with some personnel resources? I’m
good friends with one of the top sales trainers in your field—he may know people
who are looking for new opportunities.” Helping people with causes in their
personal lives are even better. If someone is fighting to stop a landfill project down
the road from where he or she lives, for example, offer to call the county
commissioner or other local representative.
Once you’ve added value, you can ask the second Golden Question: “What ideas do
you have for me?” Asking for ideas allows them to add value to you as you have
(hopefully) added value to them. You can follow this question with, “Are there other
resources you think I should pursue?” Notice that you’re not asking them to provide
those resources (although they may volunteer to do so), just to recommend ways in
which you could advance your interests.
The third Golden Question is, “Who else do you know that I should talk to?” The exact
connection you need may be in this individual’s network, or they may know of
someone from their professional or personal background. Say you are looking to
open a branch of your business in the southeastern U.S. The brother-in-law of the
executive you meet at a local industry conference might have been doing business in
that part of the country for twenty years. Letting others know what you are working
on and then asking this question can open the doors to resources you could never
Once you ask the three Golden Questions, be quiet and listen. Take notes if
appropriate—it not only will help you remember the resources mentioned, but it
also will show that you value the help and advice given. Ask if you can follow up
with them (a great reason to be in contact and to develop the relationship further).
As you leave, conclude your conversation with a simple yet powerful statement:
“Happy to help.” The other person will likely remember it when you contact him or
Remember, in every meeting you can learn something new, gain a new experience,
and perhaps find a new friend or associate. When you use the three Golden
Questions, you will open the doors to greater opportunities for you as well as the
people you meet.
Judy Robinett is the author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+150 Rule (McGraw-Hill, May 2014), a book that provides instant, effective strategies for meeting the people you need to know and bonding with them fast to further your goals and theirs. Robinett is a business thought leader who is known as “the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex.” She has been profiled in Fast Company, Forbes, Venture Beat, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg Businessweek as a sterling example of the new breed of “super connectors” who use their experience and networks to accelerate growth and enhance profitability.
Judy can be reached at:
LinkedIn Judy Robinett
Facebook Judy Robinett