In today’s digital age, have you wondered how you can stand out? With the world at our fingertips, it’s easy to find yourself getting lost in the shuffle, and sometimes you may be losing touch with the people around you.

I believe that behind any successful online strategy to stand out, there is an equally valuable offline strategy. My personal journey and passion for effective communication is one of the reasons why I created Influence Tree, to help people crack the code to unlocking their brand identity to better connect with others.

Let’s face it, we live in a world a world full of instant gratification and selfishness. Are you the type of person who does not look up from your phone? Are you becoming disconnected from your co-workers, co-founders, or employees? I am here to tell you that you can look up.

But what are you going to say?

Instead of worrying about what to say, consider asking questions instead.

Questions are incredibly powerful communication tools.

One person who has done a fantastic job as standing out among the noise, and creating real connections is Sweta Patel. I sat down with her and chatted about her path to branding herself as the “Fast Growth Gal.” Sweta has advised over 200 startups in Silicon Valley and is the founder of SVStartupmarketing.com, Oracles Member and SEJ Top Influencer.

Sweta has seen everything from office politics to flexibility at its finest. Here are seven questions that she uses to stand out.

1. “What can I learn?”

If you act like a student, but think like a leader you will influence everyone around you. Just like the saying help others shine first because your glory will follow, you must use every day as an opportunity to impact those around you. CEOs pick up on their employees’ characteristics quickly. Be eager and have an appetite for intelligence and you will not go unnoticed. Your continuous learning not only helps you grow, but your company and team as well. From my experience, this creates chemistry with the CEO, which is far more valuable than industry knowledge. It drives the company to the finish line.

2. “How can I make your day better?”

Sweta asks this question often. Take an interest among your colleagues and you will do two things. Attract team members and build an influence among them instantaneously. I know first hand that in a startup environment, entrepreneurs are often over-worked and insecure. Silicon Valley is one of the most competitive areas to work in because there is so much talent. Everyone is trying to watch their backs. Sweta suggests to ask your team members what you can do to make their day better. Everything else will fall into place.

3. “Have you tried taking this approach?”

Try looking from a different perspective. When I work with a large team, I make sure I understand everyone’s motives before jumping in to the conversation. Let your team members have a voice. First seek to understand them at their core level and then adjust to their environment.

“It’s all about channeling your voice and seeking to know someone, otherwise you won’t be effective,” says Sweta. “In most cases, I see that it isn’t about being right – it’s about being effective. To stay effective, you must first want to be effective then learn from listening and follow character.”

4. “In an ideal world, what would you want to do?”

If you’re caught up in a situation that is already igniting the fire, then there is no easy way to put it out, right?

What do you do?

It’s easy.

Sweta says to simply put the ball back in the team member’s court.

She asks the question, “How would you like the end result to be?”

She says that the light then usually will go off in their head and they will realize that she cares about what they want. This method will win over influence in team environments and ensure you’re helping your team members reach their goals. It’s a win-win. When team environments are at stake, learn how to be effective.

5. “Can you help me understand?”

What happens when you want to reach a certain result but the CEO has other plans? How do you come to terms with the person you want to influence? Sweta’s secret weapon is to understand people and their goals before she speaks hers. I agree. To move forward, your goals have to be aligned. One of the ways I help startups align their goals is by truly giving them the attention they need to succeed at what they do. It’s about enabling whoever you are working with and giving them the microphone – and then walking into the picture to enhance their current situation.

I have personally had experiences where a team member wants to re-do the work because they were not confident in the direction I was going in. It’s discouraging. When this happened, I looked at it as an opportunity to enhance the work. I looked at where they were coming from, and it helped to gain perspective.

6. “How can I help you today?”

Wouldn’t it be nice, if you were asked that question every day? Use the Golden Rule and make an effort to help others. Sweta shared that she tries to help at least three people a day. I have always found that by focusing on helping others and giving back to the community, my environment is directly impacted.

But the idea of making a goal to help three people a day is powerful.

Being positive is contagious, and the more people you help, the more positivity you can spread.

If you do this, you will attract like-minded people in your work environment and create a chain reaction of helpfulness. By simply asking this question, you can deliver real value without even trying and enlighten others.

7. “Would this be of value to you?”

When you learn what others value, it will instantaneously help you build better relationships. I have a communication theory I call the Selfish Hat, and it helps to align your goals with others to create a win win situation.  If you invest time with your team members and genuinely care about their issues and find out what their real needs are, then you can align them with your goals so that you can add value while still getting what you desire.

Sweta sees her team members’ struggles as an opportunity to problem-solve with them, all while building a closer relationship and leaving a lasting impact. By doing so, she not only enhances their lives but she becomes better connected with her team.

Now is the time to stand-out and shine in your industry. Try asking these 7 questions to make an impact among your employer, employees or startup team. Invest time into others and you will help to create a better work environment for all, while delivering bottom line results.

What questions do you use to better connect with people? Please share as comments.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Ryan Foland
Ryan Foland is a master communicator. He coaches leaders worldwide on the art of simplifying spoken and written messaging for greater impact. He is the inventor of 3-1-3 Theory, a process whereby pitches begin as three sentences, condense into one sentence and then boil down to three words. Ryan is the co-founder of InfluenceTree.com, a personal brand accelerator and writes for Influencive. He has appeared in Inc., Entrepreneur, HuffPost, TEDx and more. An entertaining speaker and emcee, he serves as a public speaking mentor for a variety of thought leaders. Learn more at www.RyanFoland.com.