What to say when you are asked ‘so what do you do?’ when networking

You have probably been told you have to have an effective elevator pitch, so you have honed yours to perfection. You have practised delivering it in front of the mirror, with your colleagues, with your partner  and  you are word perfect.

You have just arrived at your next networking event. If you are like most people I know, you simply cannot wait for a total stranger to ask you – “so what do you do?” so you can deliver your pitch. And you do – right? No – WRONG – that is what everyone expects you to do and it is actually the last thing you should do! Here is what you should say instead…

“It is is rather boring. Please tell me what YOU do.”

Understand that most people much prefer and indeed often love talking about themselves and what they do. This gives you the opportunity to listen and ask questions. Questions like:
– So who are the type of customers or clients you deal with?
– What is the biggest project you are working on at the moment?
-Who else are you working with on this?
-What are the biggest challenges you face with a project of this type?
-What type of help and support might you need to get around that?
Etc. etc.

Once you have listened to what they have to say, you now know:
– Whether or not what you do might be of interest to them and how best to introduce your product or service to them in a relevant way
– Whether or not they are working with the type of people that you might like them to introduce you to in the future
– If you know other people who could help them that you could introduce them to

So you now have all the information you need to decide whether or not you wish to continue the conversation, either now or some time in the future, or if you should extricate yourself gracefully and move on to network with others in the room. You may also have saved yourself a lot of time explaining what you do to someone who only asked what you do just to be polite but was not really in the slightest bit interested in your response and just wanted to sell to you.

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