“And what do you do?”
These are the words which I most dread hearing, at any gathering, be it social or business. Why? Because I’m convinced before I utter a single word in response that I’m boring the pants off the person who asked the question. Because I can anticipate their eyes glazing over before I start. And, crucially, because I’m no longer passionate about what I do for a living. As we discovered at our Winter Networking event, being passionate about what you do, and being able to describe why you love it, is key to ensuring the other person remembers what you’ve told them.
Who better to invite to our networking event than Adelina Chalmers, CEO and founder of Presenting Good Practice? Adelina is most certainly passionate about what she does; in her own words, “I love linking people to other people, … and helping them talk about their business or themselves in a way that helps them achieve their dreams!” In a valiant bid to cram the equivalent of a day’s workshop into 75 minutes, Adelina gave us three techniques to use when presented with this question (which, it must be said, I am not alone in dreading!)
- Begin your answer with a question, or a series of questions, to ascertain whether the listener has any knowledge of your role/industry, and if so, how much?
- Tell them why you love what you do, rather than just what you do – if your passion shines through, the conversation will be much more memorable!
- Create a story around what you do
One or more of these techniques may work better, or feel more comfortable, for you than another. During the practical exercises, where, in pairs, we practised the techniques, I really struggled with the story-telling, but found the first two techniques easier to use. But there is no doubt that these techniques work. Adelina’s coup de grace was having us tell our partner what they did, based on our earlier exercises. Judging from the noise in the room, people had retained the information and were able to repeat it back with very little trouble.
Adelina had plenty of useful advice to offer, including good preparation before going to an event. Questions such as the following can really help to focus the mind, and ensure that you get the best results from time spent at an event:
- Why am I going to this event?
- What type of people am I likely to meet?
- What would I like to happen as a result of me going?
We also gleaned some great tips on opening a conversation and steering it in the required direction in order to achieve your aims.
This was an extremely useful event, not to mention an entertaining one. One of my goals for 2014 is to attend more networking events, and I now feel better equipped to choose them carefully, and make the most of them when I am there.
And my top take-home messages?
1) People may not remember what you say; they may not remember what you look like; what they do remember is HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL!
2) Don’t put people on the spot by asking them… “And what do you do?” !!! (unless of course they’ve been trained by Adelina…)