The Best Networking Question to Ask

Last week I photographed several speakers at an event. I just used my iPhone and they came out great. After each speaker finished, I approached them with my card and asked if they would like the photographs emailed to them or posted to social media. Each speaker was delighted and wanted to stay in touch. Most speakers are eager to have photos so this was an appropriate gesture that was definitely appreciated.

The Best Networking Question to Ask


The best question we can ask as a networker is “How can I help you?” Sometimes the answer is obvious, but other times we search for ways to help our network.  Here’s a list of a few of my favorite ways to support and enhance relationships:

  • Follow your contact on all social media channels. Like and share content.
  • Mention your contact in a blog post or on social media
  • Send an article of interest to your contact
  • Connect them to someone else that would be mutually beneficial
  • Photograph and share
  • Offer to brainstorm an idea with them
  • Offer to provide feedback on their website, report, blog post, or any other project
  • Attend an event they are sponsoring or where they are speaking
  • Teach your contact something at which you are proficient
  • Refer someone to them as a potential client
  • Help your contact’s child or friend solve a problem or pursue an opportunity

Most importantly, ask your contact “how can I help you?” This is really the best question you can ask. The answers can be surprising, but you have to ask this question.

My friend Lisa Bonner is an example of a top notch networker. She is always helping her connections. She is famous in her circle for her valuable and personalized e-introductions between her network and friends.  These introductions have produced new clients for me as well as several wonderful new relationships.  Lisa will also brainstorm an idea or provide feedback on a proposal or website.

The old fashioned view of networking includes a man in a suit passing around dozens of cards in search of a job or a sale. This image couldn’t be further from the truth for the best networkers.  Today’s top networkers are interested in expanding their contacts and then finding the valuable win-win relationships. A one way relationship is not sustainable. Lisa’s network is there to help her at any time because of how she approaches her relationships. By the way, how can I help you?

Can you think of any other ways to help a contact? 

© Copyright 2013. Sandra Long. All rights reserved.

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Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.

Reader Interactions


  1. Bob Wheeler says

    Terrific post. I’ve used some of the ideas above, but many others you list are things I had not considered. The point of offering to help is the key!

  2. Keith Howell says

    It is not about “who you know” in life, but about “who you are willing to serve” that matters. I like the idea of asking “How can I help you?”; it is direct and refreshing.


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