What do you do?

I recently had dinner with my former boss and still dear friend and mentor, Jeff. Jeff was coming back from a business trip where he met incredibly intriguing people with all different backgrounds. The ‘kaleidoscope’ of various personalities, experiences, education, places of origin can make for a really interesting conversation, added perspective, and above all else, new relationships.

Jeff has coached me on how to connect with different people, the objective being to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with that person. When you meet someone, especially in a business context, the human instinct is to default to asking ‘what do you do?’ There are limited ways to answer the question, but most importantly it fosters a surface relationship. ‘What do you do?’ is subliminally asking ‘what can you do for me?’ I’m guilty of asking this question.

It takes self-discipline to think of another question to ask in getting to know someone when exchanging pleasantries. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Is this your first time attending this conference?’ ‘If so, what interested you to attend?’ These are a few example questions we can ask to help build a sincere connection between ourselves and someone else. A good follow up is to write a note to that person letting them know you enjoyed speaking with them and look forward to continuing the conversation with the hope of growing the relationship.

What are some of your questions or tactics you use to build personal connections? Comment below.

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