I’m here to tell you a secret.

You’ve probably heard that you should come up with a “30-second commercial” or an “elevator pitch”.  These are supposed to be relatively short responses to the question “So, what do you do for a living?”.  The idea is that when asked, you can give this little presentation and it will so intrigue people that they will immediately ask to hear more about the fascinating world of software design, accounting, or whatever it is that you do.

Do you want to know the real reason?

It’s to prevent you from boring the other person to sleep, to tears, or to death.

I ran into a young gentleman the other day at a networking event.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t even ask him what he did.  The person who introduced us did it for me.  He then proceeded, for the next forty-five minutes to tell me in excruciating detail about his product, the reasons he built his product, who he would help with his product, why his product was the best on the market, how it differed from other products like it, how long he had taken to develop his product, and, apparently, how his product was designed to allow him to continue talking without drawing a breath or leaving a conversational gap anywhere so that someone trapped into talking with him would find no escape, no rescue, no hope.

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a little…

…but not by much.

So, all I can say is, don’t be that guy.  Develop a brief response to the “What do you do?” question.  Maybe include a 10-word description of your product or service and a brief mention of who you help.  Beyond that, just stop talking.  If they want to know more, they can ask.  Then you can share more personal information about your interests and goals in life.  Then you can set up a later meeting.  Then they get to learn about you as a human being.

Then they will not only learn about, but will look for ways to benefit you in your business/employment/job search.

And they won’t have that glazed look to their eyes.  Bonus!