"Hello, my name is Lindsay Johnson and I teach people how to network. What do you do?"
I want you to pause and really think about it: what do you do?
When answering this standard question at most networking events what do you say?
“I’m a project manager”
“I’m a financial planner”
“I’m a teacher”
“I’m in communications”
Have you noticed that we associate what we do with who we are? The activities that we do day in and day out to pay our bills have become synonymous with our personal identities.
And while lots of us lead very interesting and even groundbreaking lives, a lot of the time we provide such a boring and non-engaging answer to this rather important question.
If you’ve ever watched someone’s eyes glaze over or head slowly nod as they say “cool” or “that sounds interesting”
you may be guilty of giving a boring or unclear answer. The reverse is also true, if you’ve ever asked someone what they do and then been underwhelmed, if not confused, by their reply and no where to take the conversation you will understand what we’re talking about here.
You only have a few seconds to make a powerful and memorable impression. It is essential that you have a clear, concise, and engaging answer to the “what do you do” question. If you want to strike up an interesting conversation and begin to build a meaningful professional relationship, you first have to open up and make a connection.
What if instead of simply stating our position or credentials we were to share what we actually do every day.
You’re not just a financial planner; you help people get out of debt, buy a house, or make smart investment decisions.
You’re not just a teacher; you work with kindergarten children, accessing their creativity and imagination every day, opening their minds up to a whole new world.
Now let’s take this a step further: Why do you do what you do? What is it that gets you most excited about what you do? What do you hope to accomplish? How do you want to touch the lives of the people you work with?
While you may not begin your conversation with your deepest hopes and dreams for your career or company, with any luck if you’ve kicked things off correctly you will get the opportunity to share your passion. And isn’t that the whole point of networking, to have an authentic conversation and leave a lasting, positive impression?
As you’re getting ready to head out the door to your next networking event, be prepared to answer this standard, boring, and most important question. Don’t just ask yourself “what do I do,” also ask, “why do I do it?” Be ready to let the people you meet see the real you and hear your passion come through your words. And get ready for a great conversation.