What do you do?
Imagine a scenario where you are meeting for someone for the first time. If you live in America, there is a good chance that the conversational exchange will go something like this:
An opening volley of small talk …
A bit more small talk …
Something about the weather …
And then someone will inevitably say — wait for it …
“So, what do you do?”
I consider “What do you do?” to be one of the world’s worst networking questions. I wrote a guest blog post about it at Direct Talk, the blog of Donna Berkelhammer at The Legal Direction. Here are a few of the highlights.
On the one hand, this little four-word question is a valiant attempt at keeping the conversation going, perhaps even taking it to a new place. On the other hand, “What do you do?” always falls flat. It’s a rather impersonal query offering little that is stimulating. It opens no doors in your quest to be helpful. “So, you are a doctor (or a project manager, or a VP, or whatever). That sounds nice.”
The problem is that “What are you working?” is a closed question. It doesn’t go anywhere.
Instead of asking, “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?”, ask the most powerful networking question in the world: “What are you working on?” This opens the door to the heart of what’s important to a person.
Go read the entire article. It’s less than 500 words and loaded with a couple of key insights on what to say and why when you are conversing with someone..
Heather Hollick has been helping others become better leaders and craft more meaningful careers for more than 25 years. Her experience spans both business and technology, operations and organizational development. Oh, and she was born in Canada, so she can't help but be helpful. 😉