We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule, right?

The most popular take on this is that 80 percent of your workload will come from the bottom 20 percent of your clients…and the goal is find MORE of the top 20 percent.

And of course, if you use social media to grow your business, you have probably heard of the 80/20 rule on sharing. It states you should share 1 post about your business or products for every 4 or 5 posts that provide value or inspirational content.

Well, there’s another 80/20 rule that some folks just aren’t following these days. And it’s the one that applies in networking. Have you ever attended a networking meeting or event, and someone asked you that typical question, ‘what do you do’? And Immediately you slip into your elevator speech, covering your business name, mission and ideal client in under 30 seconds. After you spit that out, the absolute best thing that other person can do is ask open-ended questions, getting you to talk more and more about your business. But often times, that other person is just waiting for a pause, and the perfect moment to jump in and tell you all about their business and how they can help you do this or do that. What happens after this conversation has ended? You walk away thinking that person only cares about their own business, which is probably not someone with whom you would want to do business!

In most conversations, you should strive to listen 80 percent of the time, paying close attention to what the other person is saying. Don’t just keep your mouth closed and wait until it’s your turn to speak! Truly listen, and ask follow-up questions when you see they are passionate about a particular topic.

Here’s 5 awesome open-ended questions you can use at your next networking event, or even on the elevator when you’re standing next to a stranger:

  1. Tell me about why you started your business.
  2. Describe your ideal client.
  3. What is something you would tell someone wanting to start a business like yours?
  4. If you could go back in time to when you first launched your business, what would you do differently?
  5. What is your company’s mission or vision?