One of the first questions we ask a person after meeting them is, “What do you do?” The reason this question is so important is because our culture places value on people based on their profession. People put so much emphasis on their career, that if they become unemployed, they feel as though they lack an identity.
Here’s the problem with making judgments about a person’s status or value based on their profession. We can miss out on where that person is headed or the potential they have. A janitor could aspire to start their own janitorial business or be a talented artist that’s working a job until their art is able to bring in a consistent income. We could miss out on a diamond in the rough.
Instead, a better question is what’s something you’re working on that you’re passionate about? By asking this question, you can learn more interesting parts of a person’s story and what they’re really about. I have a friend that does billing for healthcare companies but on the side she’s an entrepreneur that aspires to get a product sold in stores. When I met her, I asked her this question and she told me about her product. I loved the idea so much that I offered to help her figure out how to launch her product.
If I had asked her what’s your profession, she probably would have told me that she works in medical billing and most likely that would have been the end of the conversation. Both of us would have missed out on what we have in common and how we could help each other.
I challenge you the next time you’re networking or meeting someone new, ask them what’s something you’re working on that you’re passionate about? It will probably be a more interesting conversation and you never know, a connection could come out of it.