5 Rapport Building Questions To Ask Instead Of, “What Do You Do?”


Business networking events are, by far, one of the best – if not THE best – means of meeting potential new customers and collaborative/joint-venture partners. And one of the most common first questions you’ll be asked is, “What Do You Do?”

But is that really the best first question to ask a fellow networker you’ve just met? What are some better questions you can ask that will help you build instant rapport, make you stand out and become more memorable?

Building Rapport at Business Networking Event

Personally, I prefer not to ask, “What do you do?” as question first. From a rapport building perspective, it puts the other person under pressure to launch directly into their elevator pitch, which kind of has a negative, anti-rapport effect.

So, here are 5 rapport building questions that will help you make a better first impression and stand out in the mind of the other person.

How Are You?

Very simple, I know. And it shows an interest in the other person. It’s what you would ask your friends when you see them. So, psychologically it creates a sense of rapport.

Have You Met Any Interesting People Here?

Quite an unusual question to ask, perhaps. Nevertheless, it’s a great ice-breaker question, I’ve found. And it stimulates the conversation, whilst staying on the subject of networking. Plus, it’s a great way of finding out who you need to be talking to.

How’s Your Day Going/Been?/Have You Had A Good Day?

Again, a little unusual. It’s probably more the sort of thing you would probably say to a friend. However, whoever you ask this to, it makes them feel like you care about them. And, again, sub-consciously, this can help toward creating a sense of rapport.

How’s Business Going?

Yes another, perhaps, unusual question to ask of someone you’ve just met for the first time. And, again, it shows an interest in the other person.

Is This Your First Visit To This Networking Group?

This is a fantastic ice-breaker, especially if the other person actually is a first time visitor. A great follow-up question, if they say, “Yes,” might by, “So, how are you finding it, so far?” Or you could ask the second question in this list, “So, have you met anyone interesting here?”

The Benefits of Asking These Questions

The above questions might be a little out of the ordinary – perhaps even maverick. However, I’ve used each of these questions and, when asked in the right way, they all have worked well, for me.

Your first, and most important goal, is to build rapport with the other person(s), making it easier for you to ask more searching questions that will enable you to find out what you can do for them – and, indeed, what they can offer you.

By building such rapport, you will also stand out and be more easily remembered by those you meet, at networking meetings and other business events.