Break the Ice With These 6 Questions at Your Next Networking Event

Networking events are perfect opportunities to build your contact base, but you won’t get more than a few business cards if you don’t leave an impression. Making meaningful business connections requires delving beneath the surface. To pull off that critical first impression, try leading with a creative icebreaker.

These six entrepreneurs share the first question they ask when seeking a new acquaintance at an event. Remember: It’s okay to have fun with it.

How did you get started?

When seeking to learn more about a new contact and their company, sometimes the best place to start is at the beginning. Chris Gronkowski, creator of shaker bottle Ice Shaker, finds that learning more about where they started and how they got to where they are today is valuable for connecting — and even picking up a trick or two.

“This is a great question to ask, because everyone has a unique story about how they got started in business and different techniques that were successful for them, which I like to note,” he says. “It also gives me a chance to learn about this person and their company and how we can benefit from each other.”

Would you rather lose one arm or one leg?

“Asking a silly but thought-provoking question can start a memorable conversation with a stranger,” says Bryce Welker, founder and CEO of CPA review site Crush the CPA exam. This is a great way to break through the noise of the many attendees focusing strictly on business.

“I’ve found that asking off-the-wall questions to potential connections sets me apart from other professionals who ask tired questions that often encourage canned responses,” says Welker. “It’s possible that one zany conversation can lead to opportunities in the future.”

Why haven’t we worked together?

Ryan Bradley, partner at personal injury law firm Koester & Bradley, LLP, understands that making an advantageous connection starts with addressing why you’re both there. So why not cut right to the chase?

“The reason that entrepreneurs and founders attend networking events is to generate business. I never avoid this fact. After the standard pleasantries, I love to ask people why we haven’t worked together before,” he says. “It is an offbeat question, particularly if you are a little outside your direct niche, but it allows the conversation to flow in a positive direction toward a goal: business!”

What’s your favorite book?

You can tell a lot about a person by their hobbies and passions. That’s why Zac Johnson, CEO of blogging business Blogger, asks about a personal interest that many entrepreneurs have in common.

“Many people, especially entrepreneurs, are very passionate about reading. When it comes to books, people like to discuss what they’ve read recently, along with their favorite books,” Johnson says. “This is a great way to open a conversation with someone, and it helps you better understand their interests and passions in the process.”

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Running a successful business isn’t all fun and games, and Sam Miller, founder of strength training and performance measurement technology platform Boston Biomotion, likes to confront this. Asking someone about their biggest challenge opens up an honest dialogue that could prove to be mutually beneficial.

“I prefer this question as a way of getting some depth. This often leads right to learning more about what they do and where they’re at, and also seeing if there’s any way I can be helpful,” he says. “The question is pretty disarming, so it requires quickly establishing some trust and comfort, but some of the best conversations and follow-ups I’ve had have come from this.”

What’s your dream?

“I always like to ask people what their big dream is and if they are currently doing it,” says Dalia MacPhee, CEO of clothing brand DALIA MACPHEE. This goes beyond simply learning about their current business ventures and demonstrates that you value their passions, too.

“There’s never been a time when I’ve asked that question that someone’s eyes didn’t light up and a meaningful conversation ensue,” she says. “I’d rather skip the small talk and be the person that was remembered at an event for helping to light a fire under someone.”

Tech

These are the lessons Trulia learned from building a chatbot

It’s a competitive real-estate rental market out there, and Trulia wanted to capitalize on the interest with a new Facebook Messenger bot it launched earlier this month.

The bot lets users search for rental properties and keep up to date on new properties when they become available. 

Trulia’s bot came out of a quarterly hackathon project hosted by at real estate tech firm this past May, and the company learned a lot about bot-building. The experience showed that businesses should give bot-making a shot, even if they’re not tech companies, said Yardley Ip, general manager for Trulia Rentals.

“Given that the tools are so easy to use, and it’s so lightweight to develop [a bot], I think businesses should try it,” Ip said. “At least, at minimum, from the customer service angle. Because there are frequently asked questions that users and customers have, and why not use a bot as a way to respond to your users quickly?”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

These are the lessons Trulia learned from building a chatbot

It’s a competitive real-estate rental market out there, and Trulia wanted to capitalize on the interest with a new Facebook Messenger bot it launched earlier this month.

The bot lets users search for rental properties and keep up to date on new properties when they become available. 

Trulia’s bot came out of a quarterly hackathon project hosted by at real estate tech firm this past May, and the company learned a lot about bot-building. The experience showed that businesses should give bot-making a shot, even if they’re not tech companies, said Yardley Ip, general manager for Trulia Rentals.

“Given that the tools are so easy to use, and it’s so lightweight to develop [a bot], I think businesses should try it,” Ip said. “At least, at minimum, from the customer service angle. Because there are frequently asked questions that users and customers have, and why not use a bot as a way to respond to your users quickly?”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

Do you trust your cloud provider? Addressing these questions will help put you at ease

Although vendor-written, this contributed piece does not promote a product or service and has been edited and approved by Network World editors.

Finding a cloud provider you can trust has become a major responsibility.  Cloud providers come in all shapes and sizes—from global organizations delivering a range of services to small shops specializing in a limited number of capabilities. To normalize the differences you need to ask consistent questions about key issues.

Security should be at or near the very top of your list, with their answers providing the transparency which will help build trust.  An essential first step is to avoid making assumptions on what security is and isn’t with respect to a provider. Every provider is different, with different rules, service-level agreements (SLAs), and terms and conditions. Make sure you thoroughly understand what each service provider commits to you, the customer.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Information-centric networking could fix these internet problems

Information-centric networking (ICN) ticks many of the requirements boxes for 5G, driven by the proliferation of software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). But what are those issues that ICN improves over the current internet? And how does it do it?

Today’s internet has seen significant changes. With forecasts for 2020 predicting 50 billion IoT devices, the scale of connectivity is ever increasing with nearly every computing device today providing some form of connectivity option.

This will have a tremendous impact on the size of IP routing tables. This is not a problem in your typical home router on the edge of the internet. But as you move up to the core (into the so called Default Free Zone), the nodes in this part of the network literally need to store the whole internet in their routing tables. This is driving up memory costs in each IP router, as well as increasing processing complexity and power consumption. Even in SDN-enabled environments, this trend can be observed through increasing flow matching tables (growing similarly as the IP routing tables in the traditional internet), leading to an arms’ race between vendors for ever larger and costly table memory.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

Amazon Kindle Fire fail: Don’t buy these useless tablets (and Wintergatan)

Amazon.com comes under fire for disabling encryption on Kindle Fire tablets, and other toys that use the Android-fork Fire OS 5. Since the “quiet” change, the devices can no longer encrypt the data stored in them.

Cue: Tedious comparisons with Apple. When asked, Amazon PR explained users didn’t care for the feature. Perhaps that had something to do with the utterly weak CPUs inside these nasty, plastic boxes.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers know the value of nothing. Not to mention: Check out this amazing musical instrument

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. [Developing story: Updated 11:47 am PT with more comment.]

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

These two startups are out to dethrone Slack

There’s nothing like raging success to bring on a pack of competitors, and that’s exactly what’s now happening in the enterprise-collaboration arena.

Ever since the public launch of its team-communication software two years ago, Slack has taken enterprises by storm, propelled by its freemium business model and plenty of investor enthusiasm. Today, it claims 2.3 million daily active users, more than 675,000 paid seats and over US$ 64 million in annual recurring revenue.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

These two startups are out to dethrone Slack

There’s nothing like raging success to bring on a pack of competitors, and that’s exactly what’s now happening in the enterprise-collaboration arena.

Ever since the public launch of its team-communication software two years ago, Slack has taken enterprises by storm, propelled by its freemium business model and plenty of investor enthusiasm. Today, it claims 2.3 million daily active users, more than 675,000 paid seats and over US$ 64 million in annual recurring revenue.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

These two startups are out to dethrone Slack

There’s nothing like raging success to bring on a pack of competitors, and that’s exactly what’s happening in the enterprise-collaboration arena.

Ever since the public launch of its team-communication software two years ago, Slack has taken enterprises by storm, propelled by its freemium business model and plenty of investor enthusiasm. Today, it claims 2.3 million daily active users, more than 675,000 paid seats and over $ 64 million in annual recurring revenue.

Other companies smell opportunity.

Two new contenders entered the scene this week, both hoping to claim a piece of the pie for themselves. On Wednesday, it was SpotCues with what it calls the industry’s first location-based contextual social network. On Thursday, Kore debuted a “bot-based” messaging platform.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing