Everyone knows that networking is a key essential for business success. For some, meeting new people and sparking interesting conversations comes as second nature. But what if it isn’t your forte? What if you struggle to think of something to say or even how to begin the conversation? What can you say that is more imaginative than talking about the weather or what their journey was like?

I work with clients to develop stress-free networking strategies and have the confidence to hold and enjoy rapport-building conversations. This blog is about one technique that works for being able to ask engaging conversational questions. This technique is based on three simple words, “past – present – future”.

Depending on the situation, you will find that you can ask a number of different questions for each of these areas, from the basic to the complex. Here are some examples that you may want to try:


  • How long has your organisation been going/how long have you worked there?’”
  • “What have you enjoyed/loved about your experience with the organisation in the last 5/10 years.”


  • What challenges is your organisation currently facing?”
  • “How is your sector/organisation coping with ……..?”
  • “What challenges if any is remote working presenting to you?”
  • “Any question on topical issues of the day that may affect/interest the other attendees.”


  • Where do you see your organisation/yourself in 12 months/3 years?”
  • “What do you think is going to be the biggest opportunity/threat for you and/or your organisation in your type of services going forward.”
  • “Any question on topical issues of the day that may affect/interest the other attendees in the future.”

And you can also share your own experiences – how you and/or your organisation have fared in the past, sees its current challenges/opportunities, and where it/you are aiming to be in the future.

Having the past-present-future formula in mind can inspire great questions that get the conversation flowing. Whilst you don’t want to use so many questions that it sounds like an inquisition, a few open questions are really all you need to get a discussion going.

Let them open up and really listen to the answers and focus on how they respond. Each answer will not only feed the conversation but may also contain valuable information for building your relationships with the right people.

These three simple words will also provide you with valuable business and market intelligence about your target market.

Are you ready to take your networking skills to the next level?

If so, I have three next steps for you to improve your communication skills and self-confidence for meeting and connecting with potential clients:

  1. Reading:
  1. Training:
    • If you enjoy learning in a group environment, then my short Networking with Impact workshop is for you and your team. This interactive event boosts your confidence by providing you with practical networking technique’s… all over lunch! To find out more about how this could benefit you and your team, get in touch. This can be delivered on its own or part of the Power of Three programme.
    • If you want to learn all the inside secrets to powerful and successful networking then my full-day Kick S.T.A.R.T. Relationship Connector workshopis for you. This event forms one of the days on the Business Brilliance Blueprint Programme designed for partners and legal business owners who want to accelerate their mastery of business skills. Take this course as one-off training day or join the full programme. Here is the link to the full brochure for more details.
  1. Coaching:

I offer personalised customised coaching programme. Chapter 1.2 of Business Skills? Don’t be daft I am a lawyer! contains exercises for you to identify your coaching needs. See my blog “You can’t Read the Label from Inside the Jar” to read about the benefits of coaching.


If you would like to discuss any of the content of this blog or any of the training and coaching programmes, please contact me either email, ann@yorkshirecoursesforlawyers.co.uk or telephone me on 07921540039. 

Happy to chat over coffee and cake on a no obligation basis to discuss your objectives and needs.

Ann Page, Business Author, Trainer and Coach for the Legal Profession

Ann Page with her book Business Skills: Don't be Daft I'm a LawyerA Top 100 lawyer of the year (2003) Ann has had a successful in-house 28-year career, working mainly in the financial sector. She switched from being a business lawyer in industry to a non-practising solicitor who teaches and coaches on business subjects in 2003. Since then, Ann has trained 7500+ lawyers on business skills including leadership, management and interpersonal skills. She trained with the Coaching Academy and holds a HNLP certificate in coaching as well as being an NLP Master Practitioner. Ann is also a MiRo Accredited Trainer. Ann has always been active in various professional committees and currently she is Treasurer of the Yorkshire Sole Practitioner’s Group, a member of the Professional Speaking Association, Professional Speaking Academy and Leeds Law Society.

This blog was first published on June 7th 2017 and was signifcantly updated in January 2023

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