Say THIS while networking to make meaningful connections, blog by Lisa van Reeuwyk @BloomLisa

The dreaded question, “What do you do?”

Encapsulating all the gifts of who you are and how you transform lives in a simple title is impossible. When you meet someone at a networking event and they ask you what you do, doesn’t it feel empty to simply say, I’m a “fill in the blank.”?

Introvert or extrovert, you need a game plan that leads with intention in order for networking to create new trusted business relationships.

When you ask and/or answer the question, “What do you do?” you’re short changing one another. By simply stating your title,  people will slap their labels and stereotypes over you without knowing anything about you, who you help as a service provider and the results you produce as an expert in your craft.

Why is this important?

While this may work in your favour if someone had an excellent past experience, do you really want someone summing you up based on their past experience of working with someone else?

As a business coach to service providers, when meeting a prospective new client for the first time and they ask the inevitable question, “What do you do?”, their entire body language noticeably changes when I would answer, “I’m a business coach.”

It’s actually quite funny when I think about it; it makes me wonder what their previous experience of working with a business consultant was….likely not an experience that aligns with my holistic approach out methodology.

However, if I switch it up and weave a narrative instead, the conversation shifts from the sparring stance of two strangers who have armoured up to ward off any attempts at a sales pitch, to engaged humans connecting over shared experience and true connection.

A winning tip for you..

Instead of asking them what they do, cancel that question from your networking playbook and replace it with, “Can you tell me a story of someone you’ve worked with recently and how you helped them achieve results?”

A re-frame on that is, “Can you tell me a story of someone you’ve recently helped with your work so I can better understand who you are, what you do and how you do it?”

Essentially, you are asking them to tell you a story. We all love a good story and like the saying goes, facts tell but stories sell.

Four tips to make a meaningful business connection while networking

1. Remembering that we have two ears and one mouth, ask them to share a story with you first.

2. If they ask you the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?”, reply with, “Thanks for asking, I’ll share a story with you so you can better understand what I do.”

3. Have several client stories ready to go for networking events so depending who you’re talking to, or what specific services you want to highlight, you’re ready to make a connection.

4. Ask to connect on LinkedIN after you’ve made a connection.

Fundamentally, as people we have more in common than we have differences. We all want to feel seen, heard and understood and to know who we are makes a difference.

You can learn more about how to deliver an epic elevator pitch in last month’s blog here.

Have you heard of the VCP curve? If not, you’ll want to read this blog I wrote to support your networking especially if you’re an introvert

Onwards & upwards,
Your Coach,


Photo By: Michele Mateus Photography

Connect on IG: @BloomLisa

Read more of my blogs for entrepreneurs.

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