The Dreary Networking Question: "So, What do You Do?"

Take this little networking quiz:

What is the question most people ask after, "What's your name?"

A) What kind of person do you desire to be?

B) What are the things that make you happy?

C) Can you tell me something about yourself that people never ask you?

D) What do you do (for a living)?"

The correct answer is D. People in social settings hope to stay on safe topics. They ask D because they can talk to you and not really learn anything of consequence. They can develop a nice little stereotypical caricature: Oh, you're a teacher. Got it.  Then, you must be a "Do-gooder" who likes to have summers off. 

"What do you do for a living?" is the worst networking question you can ask.

"But," you protest, "that's the whole point of networking! To find out what people do so you can use them to your benefit"

If that's your attitude, then you are not an effective networker. If you take the time to get to know people, there is plenty of time to find out what they do later. And in fact, they will prove more valuable because you've acquired a friend, not a "contact."

I dare you, next time you are confronted with this question, to answer it as such:

Waterfall along Bull Creek in Austin, Texas.
What do you like to do? I like to hike the hidden places.
"I'm not my job. I have an arrangement with my employer: I exchange some of my time for cash, so I can do things I like to do. Would you like to know about those things? They're much more interesting than my job."

I challenge you to change the dialogue with the next stranger you encounter. Even if you're at a company party... nay, especially if you are at a company party, don't ask question D. Ask question A, B, or C... any of them are better. You'll be surprised at what you will learn about people. You might even walk away from the encounter with a potential new friend rather than just a business card that you'll throw in that drawer full of other business cards you've never looked at again.

Do something you fear today: Have a real conversation. Get to know someone.

ScribbleFire the Cat writing on a yarn rug, (c) 2015 by David Borden
ScribbleFire the Cat

photo credit: (c) 2015 by David Borden

#networking #fear #conversation #friend #work #job


  1. Can always go for a real conversation starter, Yak Rancher, Rabbit Breeder, Chicken Sexer, 80s One-hit Wonder, Dildo Model, or possibly the best of them all......Community Organizer.


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