I attended an Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting event last night. They celebrated the opening of Quail Park, a new senior living community. The turnout was great, and I reconnected with many local professionals.

My experience at this event reminded me of the importance of asking the right questions. You may want to read our related Biz Tips article on “The Value of Asking Questions.”

At every networking event we have conversations with several different people. Invariably, we all ask similar questions to start the conversation. How many times have you been asked “how are you” or “what do you do for a living?” The response does not require deep thought, so the resulting conversation usually remains somewhat superficial.

You want to make a good impression with the person you are talking to, and you want them to remember you. It is hard to make an impression and be memorable when your conversations tend to remain shallow and superficial.

What can you do to have more meaningful and deeper conversations with people? Simply ask questions that require a deep, well-thought-out response. The person will be forced to think before they respond. The resulting conversation is usually more meaningful. Certainly you will be more memorable for asking such thought-provoking questions.

Here are a few examples of profound questions you could ask someone:

  1. What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?
  2. Can you describe how failure has shaped your life?
  3. What do you consider to be your single greatest achievement?

Maybe you could add a few of these profound questions to your arsenal of networking tools and use them at your next event. The response may be life-changing for you, so listen carefully and be prepared to learn.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.