How to be outstanding at your next networking event


It is early days for my business so recently I attended a Guardian small business event in Bristol. Following a couple of speakers there was the networking element. Now, I am a people person and I love to chat but I get a little hot under the collar when asked 'what do you do?' as a conversation starter by someone I don't know.

I feel under pressure to interest the listener in my line of work in 10 seconds, sell myself and lead the conversation to point at which it can continue. All very stress provoking. Does the fact that 'I am a freelance admin assistant based near Bristol working on a range of admin tasks for an hourly rate for small businesses' define me? I don't think so.

So on reflection, it doesn't seem like this is the best question to ask when trying to get to know someone. Because it doesn't lead anywhere, unless you happen to be in the same work field as your new friend or you happen to understand what they do. I have been in countless conversations where following this question, I am still none the wiser as to how my conversation partner spends their day.

Example questions

So here are some more interesting questions to open up with, because why are we defining people by their job roles anyway?

  • What was your first job?

  • Which three people would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

  • If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with your time?

  • If someone were to play you in a movie, who would it be?

  • If you could spend a day in someone else's shoes, who would it be?

Any suggestions?

Try and see how it goes if you move away from the 'what do you do?' question. I hope that your conversations will be far more interesting.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash


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