WHAT DO YOU DO
Why do people go to networking events? Usually it is to increase their business. On that note the first question people ask one another is, what do you do? Which actually means what do you get paid for. Some will respond with an enthusiastic description of their profession or business. They enjoy their earning activities and is designed to attract business through the networking medium.
For others it is very different. They hope to grow professionally but their job is low status, poorly paid, boring and repetitive. Worse still others will be unemployed and feel totally overwhelmed by those who seem to be doing so well.
When people open with the question What do you do it has a reductive affect reducing many to an awkward silence and closes off conversation where the questioner will move on to better prospects.
I would propose a different tack one I use at networking meetings that brings out the best in people and reveals opportunities for business not otherwise revealed.
I start by asking them any question apart from what do you do. I enquire about their interests their family their holiday or their views on non controversial topics. A good question is to ask what are their hobbies or what do they do in their free time. The purpose here is twofold. Firstly to discover their passions and secondly to develop rapport in a non business uncompetitive way. Most delegates at meetings will really open out expressing their real selves how they think and who they really are. Often peoples real skills are revealed in their interest activities as money is not their primary goal. As mentioned above some have turned their passion into paid employment and are living their dream but this is rare. Most go to work largely for the cash and if the job is fun interesting and fulfilling that is a bonus.
I fully except that eventually the topic of how they earn their living will come up but by this time you have build rapport learned to get along and usually have found something in common.
People are multifaceted and the nuggets of financial deals are hidden in their interests ,relationships and leisure activities. I wonder how much business is generated every year on the golf course?