Stop Wasting the Invitation©

Have you ever wished that networking partners, referral sources and potential clients would give you an engraved invitation to tell them something about your business? Guess what –they do all the time, but we miss the invitation. This invitation is your opportunity to regularly and consistently educate everyone in your life about what you do, who you do it for and what’s special about you, all without having to push the topic or wait for just the right moment. In fact, the invitation usually happens within the first 15 seconds every time you see someone that you know. Now is the time to reclaim your opportunities.

Virtually every time–every time–that you see someone you know, they ask you some version of this question: “What’s new with you?” Similar alternatives include “How are you doing?” or “How’s business/life?” Without recognizing the invitation, most of us see this as a throwaway question, and we treat it as such with benign and wasted answers such as the following:

  • Busy
  • Okay
  • Pretty good
  • Getting by
  • Lots going on
  • All good

Hopefully, you get the point. They ask us a poor question that is usually more out of habit than intentional, and we respond with equally poor answers. Here is the first lesson: just because someone asks you a poor or largely irrelevant question does not mean that you have to respond with a similarly poor or irrelevant answer.

When someone asks you anything like the foregoing, this is your opportunity to differentiate, update and educate. Rather than responding with a meaningless answer, you can respond with something like this:

  • Business is good. In fact, recently I’ve been working extensively with managers on building accountable teams [fill it in with whatever is relevant for you].
  • I have been developing a new product or service that is taking up a great deal of my time.
  • I just got back from a business trip to Alabama to work with a client on a new labor and employment matter [Perhaps they don’t know that you do labor and employment work].
  • My plate has been full as a result of a new product that we recently launched.
  • I’ve been working with my marketing team on a new brand for our company [Which typically elicits questions about what the brand was, is or will be].

I am not suggesting that you go into a long, drawn out description about what you do, but this is an invitation to share something unique and new or something that will remind the person about what you do, who you do it for and what kinds of results you are creating for your clients and customers.

For example, over the past month I have typically answered any questions like these in the same way: “Right now I’m very busy finishing up my next book and getting it ready for publication in October.” Can you guess where the conversation goes after I give this answer?

While people may not be thoughtful about their questions (which often are simple, habitual questions), that does not mean that you must or should give an equally thoughtless answer. Drop the “busy” (and equally bland answers) and accept the invitation to share something meaningful–even if they didn’t realize that they were extending that invitation! They may be throwaway questions, but we all need to stop throwing away the opportunities.


  1. Chris Corpus says:

    Accurate and insightful. I will have to try this.

  2. Great insight, Jeff! I cannot count how many times I missed my own opportunity to tell what I’ve been up to just in the past week! I attend many networking events on a weekly basis. I have a daily reminder on my calendar now (until it becomes a habit) to “tell my news” right away when asked how things are going. Thank you for reminding me of the opportunity which is right in front of me.

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