Assuming you’re already at a work-related networking event or meeting another person in a work context, the question quickly sets a boundary around the conversation that the other person is now a “work” contact. It’s possible you might discover another commonality and build a multiplex tie, but it’s far less likely to happen in that conversation.
David Burkus is the best-selling author of three books, and Associate Professor of Leadership and Innovation at Oral Roberts University.
Here he convinced me that talking about work at a work event (at least as an opener) is dull, and counter-productive.
Admitedly, some of the suggested alternatives wouldn’t quite fly in certain social contexts ourside of the accepted American way, but the premise (backed by science; it’s HBR, after all) is certainly intriguing.