Handling Work Conversations With Family and Friends

lamb roastImagine this scenario:  Jenny and Bill had 15 people for dinner at their place recently to celebrate Christmas in July. Jenny was busy with preparations for weeks leading up to the event and Bill was determined to get the house and yard looking great – as well as cooking his famous roast lamb.

The guests began to arrive and Bill was pouring champagne. It had been a busy start to the year for him and Jenny had started a new job, so it was great to have time to stop and catch up with everyone.

‘How’s the business going Bill?’ each guest would ask in turn.

‘Pretty good – busy,’ Bill would respond.

‘What about you Jenny? How’s the new job?’ they asked.

‘Fine,’ said Jenny. ‘I hit the ground running.’

And on they would move to the next topic.

Both Bill and Jenny missed a great marketing opportunity here.

Bill could have elaborated, ‘Our numbers were down after Christmas and New Year, so we launched a new software product that is particularly helpful for services providers like doctors, accountants, lawyers. Our new clients are really loving it. I’ll flick you an email next week in case you have any contacts that might be interested.’

Jenny might have said, ‘Yes I started as office manager for a local group of health practitioners. It’s a great bunch of really experienced and energetic physios, sports medicine specialists, a podiatrist and a nutritionist. The business is growing fast so my job is challenging, but in a good way. We’re looking for new premises soon because we’re running out of space.’

In just ten seconds, Bill and Jenny might have told their guests a lot more about their work which may even had generated some business, advice or assistance. You see among their guests were:

Harry – a real estate agent with back issues
Bella – returning to work at a law firm and wearing heels again was agony
Simone – an architect who recently ran her first marathon and is looking to do more
Stuart – a struggling artist from a family of medical specialists
Peter – an accountant who is looking to lose 25 kilos, starting tomorrow
Kate – has 1,200 friends on Facebook and 1,480 Linkedin connections.

Many people are reluctant or even embarrassed to tell their family and friends about work. They think no one will really understand what their do so they don’t bother explaining. They might not want to be seen to be ‘talking themselves up’ or ‘getting a big head’.  They might be concerned about conflicts of interest or jealousy. Maybe things are not going so well and they don’t want to worry people? Or perhaps they don’t want to think or talk about work in their down time?

But you just never know where and when you might come across mutually beneficial opportunities or a way to help each other out – professionally as well as personally.

Tell them your story in a quick, informative manner – you don’t want to be a bore. Then ask them about themselves until you have a clear picture of what they do and who they do it for.  It would feel great to be in a position to send some business to a mate or put a family member in contact with someone great.

Think about your recent gatherings with family or friends. Did anyone ask you about work? If not, why? If they did, how did you respond? Do you think your mother, or brother, or best friend could describe what you do for a living? If not, have a conversation soon so you can help share each other’s stories.

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