Everyone appreciates a list of great questions to ask senior management when networking. 

I understand why. People are busy and stressed. They don’t want to waste time or effort reinventing any wheel, no matter how small. 

But a great list of questions will only get you so far. What you really need is the network of connections that having conversations and asking these questions will create.

Why You Need An Effective Executive Network Now More Than Ever

What got you here won’t get you there. 

As you move up, your natural network shrinks. Not everyone advances. Not everyone advances at the same pace. 

There are fewer leaders than individual contributors. 

As you move to a senior executive level, your senior executive network will begin to retire (or expire!) If you work at a single organization for more than a few years, your executive network will likely be all internal – within your company.  That can limit your perspective and your opportunities.

You must be intentional and strategic about forming, nurturing, and maintaining your professional network of executives at or above your level.  

What are some great resources for this?

  • Your existing contacts – asking them to introduce you to others!
  • Professional associations and organizations that have focused groups for executives. I like SIM (Society of Information Management with lots of chapters across the US.)
  • Targeted networking groups for CIOs/CTOs – some are open only to those with the title, some are open to larger groups.
  • LinkedIn, of course!

Now, you’re ready to ask some questions. Below you’ll find 74 questions to ask senior management when networking — with executives in your company, executives in other companies, and executives you meet through the resources listed above.

Questions About What Work Is Like For Them

  1. What goals do you have for your business?
  2. What three professions would be most helpful to you in your work?
  3. Is there a way someone with my background and experience could help your company meet those goals?
  4. What is the size and makeup of your organization?
  5. How long have you worked here?
  6. What do you do?
  7. How long have you been doing it?
  8. What do you like/dislike most about your work?
  9. What are your primary job responsibilities?
  10. What kind of projects are you working on right now?
  11. What are the toughest problems and decisions you handle?
  12. What’s your favorite part of your job?
  13. Could you describe a typical workday?
  14. How long is your workday?
  15. How much contact and what kinds of interactions do you have with individuals or groups outside the office or organization?
  16. How much client contact do you have?
  17. How much variety is there in your work?
  18. Does your job require that you travel?
  19. How much training/supervision do or did you receive?
  20. What’s your dream job?
  21. Is your dream job in your current organization?
  22. How often do you work past 6pm and on weekends?
  23. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
  24. What has challenged you the most about your job?
  25. Despite these challenges, what motivates you to remain?
  26. What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
  27. If you could start all over again, would you change your career path in any way? Why?
  28. Tell me about your career path leading up to your current role.
  29. What kind of contacts do I have that might help you?

Questions About What Work Is Like In Their Organization

  1. How long have you been with your company?
  2. What’s the culture like?
  3. What steps do you take to create a comfortable workplace?
  4. How do you conduct roundtable discussions and encourage people to be creative?
  5. What makes your organization stand out from the competition?
  6. Where is your organization headed in the next few years?
  7. What are the biggest challenges facing your organization?
  8. How do you continue to be motivated by the organization’s purpose while inspiring others?
  9. Considering my background, how well do you think I would fit in this company and/or profession?
  10. What other companies do you know of for which you think I would be a good fit?

Questions About What Work Is Like In the Industry

  1. How did you choose this industry to have your career in?
  2. What do you see as growth areas and opportunities in this field?
  3. What developments on the horizon could affect future opportunities?
  4. This Industry has changed in the past five years. What have you seen from inside your company?
  5. Who are the most important people in the industry today?
  6. Which companies have the best track record for promoting women and minorities?
  7. Do you recommend that I enroll in any particular classes (technical or otherwise)?
  8. If I wanted to pursue self-employment in this Industry how would you recommend I get started?
  9. What type of professional and personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work?
  10. Are there other educational opportunities or certifications I should be looking for?
  11. What do you wish you had known about your position/the field before you started?
  12. What would be a typical next career move for someone in your position?
  13. What do you see as the major issues/ trends in the field today?
  14. What other people do you recommend I talk with and may I tell them you referred me to them?
  15. How long does it take for managers to rise to the top in your organization?
  16. What personal attributes seem to facilitate a more rapid advancement?
  17. What is the background of most senior-level executives?
  18. Considering all the people you’ve met in your line of work, what personal attributes are essential for success?

Questions for Leaders About Leadership

  1. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  2. What are your top 3 guiding principles that have helped you achieve your success?
  3. How do you ensure the execution of the projects and tasks of your team members?
  4. What’s been your biggest error or mistake and what did you learn from it?
  5. How do you communicate your vision and purpose?
  6. How do you connect with your team and build trust?
  7. Who inspires you? Where do you draw your inspiration?
  8. What is the best piece of advice you ever received? 
  9. What do you do to continually learn and grow your leadership skills?
  10. What do you do to take care of yourself?
  11. What are the attributes, traits, and characteristics that have been most important in their success and how did they develop those traits?
  12. Who do you follow or what books do you recommend?

Questions To Close With and Leave A Great Impression

  1. What’s next for you in your career?
  2. How can I help you meet your goals?
  3. What’s the best way to keep in touch?
  4. Is there anyone you know that I should meet?
  5. Where do you like to network? 

Start Building Your Network Now

Your network is your most important source for leads, connections, and support in your career. These questions to ask senior management when networking will help you identify, connect with and add the right people to your professional network.

In recent months, it’s become even more critical for job opportunities. That’s why I’ve been working with my clients to develop their own networking strategy that plays to their strengths and minimized the impact on their schedule.  

If you’d like to learn about what they’re doing to be successful — let’s talk.

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