Professional Networking 101, Episode 3: Understanding Questioning Levels

In Professional Networking 101, Adam Braatz of shares insights and experiences related to professional network development — usually while traversing to/from a networking connection.

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Episode 3: Understanding Questioning Levels

What are best practices for fostering engaging and fruitful dialogues? How can you ensure that your initial meeting is positive rather than awkward? In this video, Adam explains the three questioning levels and how to execute them with maximum effectiveness. If you acquire and develop this knowledge base and skillset, you will enjoy some of the best networking connections you’ve ever had! See below for the full transcript.


Hello, today I’m gonna share a tip with you the likes of which will enable you to have some of the most fruitful, engaging, natural dialogs in your professional network opportunities, in your connections. If you acquire and develop this knowledge base and this skill set I guarantee that you will have some of the best networking connections and some of the least awkward first meetings with people that you’ve ever had in your career.

So stay tuned, my name is Adam Braatz, take a moment to click the subscribe button if you’re in YouTube or click like on Facebook or LinkedIn wherever you’re watching this. Drop us a line, drop me a message, drop me a comment, I’d be happy to engage with you and respond as quick as I can.

So questioning levels, before I get into those really quickly, I want to go over a couple of what I call the immutable truths of networking. The first immutable truth of networking is people are going to like you more the more of an opportunity they have to talk about themselves. And this isn’t a manipulation thing. I don’t want it to come off like that, but when you give a person an opportunity to talk about themselves, they’re gonna like you more and it’s kinda hard to get some people to do that. So it’s really important that you ask high level questioning to engage them and get them to open up more in the dialog. And like said it’s not a manipulation thing, what you’re trying to do is get this person to open up so you can glean insights from them so you can gain insights, resources, information, advice, and the more they like you the more your relationship professionally and personally is going to develop and then you can build a friendship, build an acquaintanceship or lead into a mutually beneficial business situation. So it’s really important that you get them gabbing, and we’ll talk about how to do that here in a minute.

One of the other immutable truths of networking that applies in this situation is that people will like you more and wanna connect with you more when you ask them for advice. In the non-profit world they say if you want advice ask for money, if you want money ask for advice. One of the strongest things you can do is seek out an advice session and ask for advice, and the high level questioning applies there as well.

Questioning levels, here we go, the meat and potatoes of this video. Questioning, level one questions. They’re finite and short. So a level one question is professional networking equivalent of what’s the answer to two plus two? Like where are you from? The response would be, Scranton, Ohio. Done, finite, over. Or, how long have you worked for US Bank? 19 years, done, over. That’s a level one question. You can ask one of those every now and then, your really wanna avoid doing a lot of them, especially in rapid succession, ’cause if you ask a lot of level one questions your contact’s gonna get annoyed ’cause it’s gonna feel like your badgering them, so that’s why you stay away from level one questions. You can do it in followup or every now and then, but you wanna avoid, that should not be the majority of your questioning.

Level two questioning is open-ended and this is where you’re gonna be doing more of your questioning is at level two or you should be at least. For example, so how did you come to be affiliated with our organization? I use that one all the time. So how did you come to find yourself in Milwaukee? So how did you end up with US Bank? Where were you at beforehand? Those have longer answers and especially if you get somebody talking about a timeline or a journey or a process or progress, especially you know, tell me about your career, how did you end up at blank? They’ll go back to college, they’ll talk about their undergrad, their graduate studies their first job, their second job, blah, blah, blah. And then you can ask follow-up questions in the middle of that and that could take up a whole half an hour meeting. And your follow-up questions you know, if you’re seeking clarification on things, those can be level one that’s fine, just be careful with how many of those you use.

So level three questioning, these are the big ones. You’re gonna do one, maybe two of these per meeting, probably one, you have to be really careful with how you execute these. They’re gonna be your home run hitters though. Essentially it’s an open-ended question that involves a little bit of careful flattery on the front end and if you can also work in asking for advice on the back end, grand slam. For example, you know, you’re clearly established yourself here in a big way, have a huge network, who do you think that I should connect with in this area? Who do you think it’d be beneficial for me to meet with? Boom, I started out with you’re clearly well established and well connected, well respected. There’s that flattery in there, it’s careful flattery. Then the question, who do you think I should connect with? That’s open ended, and oh by the way, you’re asking for advice, and network related advice which is really cool.

So level one questioning, they’re finite, two plus two equals four. Level two questioning, open-ended that’s gonna be the majority of your questions. That’ll get somebody talking about themselves which will make them like you more. And then you can develop a friendship. Level three questionings are your home runs and your grand slams where you’re giving flattery and asking for advice at the same time. Be very careful with those because if your flattery is over the top you’re gonna come off as creepy. Take a listen to my last video to hear a story about creepy networking connections.

All right again my name’s Adam Braatz,, take a second to subscribe, like our video, comment, send me a message, whatever, I’d be happy to hear from you. Have a great day and yeah, see you later.

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