The design of social introductions.

April 22, 2010 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

According to the annual survey of the Freelancers Union, independent workers now make up “one-third of the modern workforce in the United States.” So it’s not surprising that I’ve heard increasingly diverse (and awkward) conversations come out of the typical American introductory question “so what do you do?”.  Freelancer or not, individual’s passions/interests/hobbies are almost always more interesting to me than their way of making a living, which seems to be a more common trend in the Millenial generation. Along those lines, “how important is being successful in a high-paying career or profession to you personally?” is one of the 14 determining questions in the Pew Research Center’s quiz How Millenial Are You.

As a fan of cultivating social networks, I often find myself in the position of getting to know a stranger and trying to creatively reword the “what do you do” question. It’s definitely time for a new standard in the design of social introductions. I have a friend who almost always starts with the open-ended “so how was your day?,” but I personally like to dig for more specific context than that. On the other end, blogger Chris Courtney points out that asking the ultimate to-the-point question “Who are you?” can be a bit embarrassing all around.

April 22’s daily design idea is consider the design of your social introductions. And more specifically, how do you ask (or respond to) the “what do you do” question?

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