You know that old adage, ‘There’s no such thing as a dumb question’? Sorry to spoil your fantasy, but that’s wrong. There are plenty of dumb questions. Three of my faves are:
- Excuse me, do you know what time it is?
- Hey mister, got any spare change?
- Honey, do you want to take out the trash?
These are dumb questions because the typical accurate answers should be ‘Yes I do.’, ‘Yes, but not for you.’ and ‘No, why would I want to do that?’; probably not the responses the questioners had in mind.
And my all-time favorite dumb question at a networking event is ‘Do you have a business card?” While perhaps innocent in it’s dumbness, it implies the possibility that someone would attend a networking event without business cards. Duhhh! While this does happen, why insult people by assuming they might be that dumb.
And when people ask me that – and they do often – I sometimes let my inner Sicilian child out and respond with an enthusiastic, ‘Yes’, waiting to see if the other person got the subtle shot and making them then ask if they can have my card. Rude, I admit, but often fun.
The obviously better question is ‘May I have your card?’ Concise, clear and courteous. While it still can be answered ‘No’, that doesn’t usually happen. And when you initiate the process, the better option is to ask ‘May I give you my card?’ rather than ‘Would you like my card?’ But even that is better than shoving one into someone’s hand ‘without permission’.
So, maximize your best possible first impression when networking by avoiding dumb questions and ask smart questions instead. Any more dumb questions?