How to answer, “what do you do?”

Networking and making new connections with people in our own area of expertise or across different fields is something we do all of the time. A common question is often, “what do you do?” Most of us answer with a flat, one size fits all statement like, in my case, “I do biotech executive search.” When we do something like that, we miss out on potential meaningful connections with others. But good news, Sam Horn thinks we can change that by giving the person you are speaking to the opportunity to share and relate with you in a new way. She explains, we “stopped TELLING people what we do and started ASKING how they may have experienced what we do.” As an example, in my situation, I could respond to the question by asking things like: “Are you familiar with new ground breaking technologies like synthetic biology, genetic testing or stem cells? Or “Do you work with entrepreneurs or venture-backed companies?” If they say yes, I can relate how I work with those technology founders to find the right people to bring novel scientific inventions to the market to help people worldwide.

I am going to keep refining my questions and evolve my final answers to help relate with people. It is a small exercise but a potentially valuable and fun one. If you like this approach, read Sam’s blog, “Never again give an elevator speech” and try experimenting options for how to answer, “What do you do?”

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