It’s the most commonly asked questions when two strangers meet. What do you do? It’s sometimes called the Elevator Pitch Question. Almost every networking conversation features a job oriented question, and naturally so. People want to know who you are, what you do, where you work? Even in social situations, this question is very common. To make sense of you and your world, people need to see how you fit into their world.

Asking what you do in its many forms is a great question to help categorise people. Whatever buckets or pigeon-holes you put them in, it’s helpful to know where they fit into your scheme of things. Once you know that, you can help them, talk about them, recommend them, buy from them and of course, sell to them.

Great questions such as ‘what do you do?’ help you build better relationships, network more confidently and create more opportunities. Problem is, almost everyone is asking that same question and thus sounding similar to everyone else. So instead of the usual elevator pitch question, here are 12 variations to shake things up a bit, get a different kind of answer, make you more interesting and even stand out a bit more from everyone else!

  1. What keeps you busy in the day time?
  2. What do you do for a living?
  3. So where do you work?
  4. What’s your particular area of expertise?
  5. What kind of work do you do?
  6. What’s the biggest thing you’re working on right now?
  7. What is it you’re really good at?
  8. What are you responsible for?
  9. What industry/business/sector/field are you in?
  10. What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t go to work every day?
  11. I’d be interested to hear about what you do…
  12. So what do you get up to when you’re not doing this?

Which is your preferred one? And do you have any better alternatives?