When networking, one of your goals should be to invite the people you meet into a conversation. But when you answer the question “What do you do?” with, “I am a _______,” the result is the exact opposite. Instead, you’ve got to start out with something interesting. Something that will pique your listener’s curiosity and make her want to talk to you longer.

Take lawyers, for example. When I hear them say “I’m a lawyer” in response to “What do you do?” it makes my eyes glaze over. I want to hear what type of law they practice. And what kind of clients they work with. If they say something like “I practice entertainment law and I draft contracts between film production companies and movie stars,” that gets my attention and makes me curious to know more.

Let’s say you’re a writer. Instead of saying “I’m a writer,” why not take advantage of the opportunity to mention the kind of writing you do and who you do it for? You could say, “I work with financial newsletter companies and I help them sell more subscriptions.” Or, “I write articles for online political magazines.” Or, “I work with aviation companies on their marketing materials.” All of these sentences give your listener so much more to ask about. Then you’re off and running into conversation-land!

[Ed. Note: Marketing expert Ilise Benun is the author of The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing. Get more self-marketing strategies with Ilise’s free e-newsletter, Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor.

Networking is one of the best ways to find new clients, meet potential partners, and discover people who can help your business grow .]

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