Don't Ask "What do you do?"

I love it when something seemingly unrelated sparks my networking synapses!  Below is a list for those who are tired of asking the kiddos in their life "So, how's school going?"  Guess what?  It's also the perfect anecdote to the networking hum-drums for those who are tired of asking "So, what do you do?"  Pick one and try it at your next networking event or holiday party.  (And thanks to Terry Heick at the TeachThought blog, who must be very cool to come up with a list like this.)

25 Alternatives To “What’d You Learn In School Today?”

  1. When did you notice yourself most interested and curious today?
  2. Was there a time today when you were especially confused? How did you respond?
  3. What is one thing that was hard to believe? Not confusing, but surprising?
  4. If you were more ____ today, how would it have impacted the day?
  5. When were you most creative today?
  6. Tell me one fun thing you learned, one useful thing you learned, and one extraordinary thing you learned.
  7. What does a successful day at school look like to you? Feel like?
  8. What sort of different reasons do your friends go to school?
  9. Who worked harder today, the teacher or the students?
  10. How else could you have learned what the teacher taught?
  11. How do your teachers show they care?
  12. What do you know, and how do you know it?
  13. What would you like to know more about?
  14. What is the most important thing you learned today? The least?
  15. Tell me one chance you took today, and how it ended up.
  16. What is one thing you learned from a book?
  17. What is one thing you learned from a friend?
  18. What is one thing you learned from a teacher?
  19. What still confuses you?
  20. What is something you say or heard that stuck with you for some reason?
  21. Based on what you learned today in ______ class, what do you think you’ll learn tomorrow?
  22. Tell me three facts, two opinions, and one idea you heard today.
  23. What should you do with what you’ve learned?
  24. When did you surprise yourself today?
  25. What’s stopping you from being an (even more) amazing learner?

Okay.  If it feels a bit awkward to lean over the buffet and ask "What's stopping you from being an even more amazing business owner?" then just start with something easier, like "What does a successful day at your job look like?"  I promise, even if people are a little surprised at first, after a few moments they will smile and be relived to hear something other than "So, what do you do?"