You’ve seen it all before. You’re attending a wedding/funeral/birthday. You chat will a well-dressed stranger. They ask: “What do you do?” You say: “I sell life insurance and annuities.” They bolt.
Later, you learned all about elevator speeches. “I’m an estate planning specialist in intergenerational wealth transfer.” It’s smoother, but sounds scripted. They counter: “You’re an insurance agent, right?”
(Related: 5 More ‘One Liners’ for Asking Friends to Do Business With You)
Do you have any other options about what to tell people, to get them to talk a little longer?
Here are eight possible answers, and I’m sure you have ideas about others.
Let’s get a dialog going, Readers can comment on ThinkAdvisor stories by clicking on the “Discuss this story” link at the bottom and signing up for a free Disqus account. You can use the comment system to tell us what you think of these responses, and share your own favorite strategies.
We were on a Mediterranean cruise. Table of eight. When a diner was asked that question, she said: “I’m a fine art dealer. But it’s not as exciting as you think!” She stopped talking. She waited for the audience’s reaction. The silence was filled with comments such as , “Wow!” and “What do you mean it’s not exciting?”
Here’s how a CPA I know handles this. He says: “Ever get one of those certified letters from the IRS? We take care of that kind of problem.”
2. The Assist
In some social situations, women are invisible. It’s assumed they are raising the children or have a lightweight job. The men talk among themselves. One husband, married to a financial advisor answers: “I own the local hardware store. You should ask my wife that question. She’s the one with the really interesting job!”
3. Volunteer Work
it’s rare the other person says: “What do you do for a living?” If you are at a museum event, you might say: “I’m a volunteer at the museum.” They might be one too. They draw you out. If you think it’s appropriate you later add: “My day job is….”
4. Draw Others Out
People like to talk about themselves.