Ride-sharing companies say they don’t have official policies regarding drivers or passengers side hustling in ride shares. “We know they’re more than drivers,” said Mo McKenzie, a spokesman for Lyft. In November 2015, Uber introduced a now-defunct program called Uber Entrepreneur that alerted passengers when their driver was an entrepreneur or a small-business owner.
But those who do network or pitch their companies regularly in ride shares admit to unspoken rules, usually learned from experience.
“I only do it during the evenings and weekend,” said Ms. Markuson, the poet. “During the day when people are in Lyft Lines, they are usually pretty stressed out because there is traffic and they are late to something.”
Drivers should tread carefully, said Harry Campbell, a driver himself who wrote a book called, “The Rideshare Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Driving for Uber, Lyft and Other Ridesharing Companies.” Mr. Campbell said he always feels out customers first with standard questions like, “How was your day?” If people give one-word answers, he is silent. If they open up, he continues the conversation.
As for the passengers, Mr. Campbell advised that they should always be aware of where other riders are sitting. “If you are in the back, and the other person gets in the front, that is a cue that someone doesn’t want to talk,” he said. “It’s interesting because drivers aren’t trained in any of this, but they get good at observing social cues.” A passenger using earphones is a dead giveaway to step off, he said.
After her ride-share experience, Ms. Jakubowitz, the career coach, started chatting up other passengers, she said, but decides to mention her profession only if the topic comes up naturally. “I’m not a salesperson; it’s more about the organic flow of the conversation,” she said. But, she argued, “if you can help somebody, why wouldn’t you?”