Savvy (if Reluctant) Home Office Networkers Work the Room With Finesse

Jeff Zbar

Home officers can be a hermit-like lot. Whether you’re a teleworker or especially a home business owner, the sanctuary of the home office can be a fine alternative to actually heading out. I, for one, don’t necessarily like going out to business or social events. Sure, I’ll network for bizdev, and dress in my Sunday (or Monday) best to land a new account or wow a prospect.

But spending so much time in the home office cave sometimes takes the edge off one’s socializing and networking skills.

Fellow home officer Owen Frager recently had a pithy post on the topic. He wondered aloud, when we hear, “So, Tell Me About Yourself” how do you respond?

This question comes up two places–job interviews and awkward social encounters with strangers. In both contexts it’s a sort of informal aptitude test, a way of finding out, “Am I going to want to continue spending time on you or not?”

It’s a good idea to think about your answer to this question in advance. You can rehearse your answer if you are a rehearsing-your-answer sort of person, but really what you need is this three part formula.

1) One thing you think they want to hear.
2) One thing you are really proud of that’s different from #1
3) One personal, idiosyncratic thing that shows your human side

1. One thing you think they want to hear
If it’s a job interview, this is where you mention that you love working on a team or that you love working independently or that you love dealing with irate customers or whatever. Don’t go on and on about it, one or two sentences is plenty.

If it’s a picnic where you are meeting in-laws or some other awkward social event, stick to what you do with your days and maybe some geographical history. “I’m an administrator for a nursing-home and I’ve lived in Smallville for seven years now–I love it here!”

2. One thing you are really proud of that’s different from #1
On a job interview this is the place for a little bragging, “I’m a whiz at Photoshop,” or, “I get a charge out of negotiating prices.” Just as long as it’s truthful and short.

If it’s social, keep it more factual than self-promoting, but still something you’re proud of. “I coach t-ball,” or, “I just finished running my first 5K.”

3. One personal, idiosyncratic thing that shows your human side
For work or socializing this is something ideally expressed as a positive rather than as a negative. So you could say, “And I am crazy about radishes–I plant my own every year!” But it’s not so great so say, “I hate country music,” because–hey, why be negative, and why possibly alienate your interviewer?

At work or socializing, it’s important to be short–three sentences is plenty. This isn’t meant to be an in-depth question with a lengthy answer, it’s more like a ritual coming from someone who is just as nervous as you are about what to do next.

Jeff Zbar, The Chief Home Officer
Copyright 2011, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved

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