Rock Your Holiday Networking

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Love ’em or hate ’em, holiday parties are prime networking opportunities. They are also filled with those dreaded moments when a new acquaintance asks, “So, what do you do?”

Here’s how that conversation used to go for me:

“So, what do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“Have you written anything I’ve read.”
“Probably not.”


Actually, crickets aren’t the worst reaction. One friend of mine is a comedian and when he admits to it, the response is: “Really? Say something funny!”

Trust me, that is not a conversation you want to have eighteen thousand times in your career.

Here’s what we’re doing wrong: we’re answering, “So, what do you do?” with our Job Title

People have no idea what job titles actually mean.

Unless you luck upon a fellow writer or comedian or VP of Social Media, your new friend has no background in your field. They don’t know what to ask, so they revert to the easiest question — one which almost never leads to an interesting conversation.

Happily, there is an easy fix. From now on, you will answer with a project, not a title. Here’s what I mean:

“So, what do you do?”
“I just got back from seeing my play produced in Colorado.”
“I’m about to launch my first app to help new mothers get some sleep.”
     or even
“I just hired three additional accountants because it’s going to be a heck of a tax season this year.”

One sentence. It is something you’ve either just done or are in the thick of doing and — this is important — something you are genuinely jazzed about.

When you answer this way, you set up their response. They can either ask about your job (“Oh, you’re a playwright!” — and they get to feel clever for having figured this out), or they can ask about some detail of the project itself (“How did you manage the interview process? I’m terrible at that…”).

In any case, this strategy launches a conversation that positions you as an expert, as someone who makes exciting things happen.

And if you happen to be a comedian, you’ll never have to say something funny again.