“What do you do?” It’s a question you’re asked on almost a daily basis. And if you own your own business, it’s the most important question you’re asked. Every time you’re asked that question you have the chance to shine, to stand out from the crowd and attract new clients and customers. Every time you don’t make yourself unforgettable you have wasted that opportunity.
Most people answer the question, “What do you do?” with “I’m a _____.” This is a mistake. First of all, it lumps you with all the other _____s of the world, and there’s nothing special about that. But even more importantly, it doesn’t answer the question the person is really asking. When someone asks you, “What do you do?” most of the time they’re really asking, “How does what you do affect me?” And that’s what you need to tell them.
Relate What You Do to Your Audience’s Problem
Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves, and they will be more interested in you if you somehow relate what you do to them. To really grab your listener’s attention, lead with a problem that affects them that you can solve. Sometimes this problem may involve just part of what you do. In other instances, it’s the overview of the company that addresses the problem. It doesn’t matter—just go for the most relatable problem you can think of.
Bring up the problem in a conversational way, such as, “You know how it’s hard to…” and get them to agree that the problem you mention is a valid one. You now have them engaged and actively listening. Then go into how you solve the problem.
Start with the Problem
For example, let’s say you’re an accountant. If someone asks what you do, start with the problem. “Do you ever wonder if you’re paying too much income tax?” That’s a problem most people can relate to. Then go into your solution. “I save people money on their taxes by making sure they claim every single deduction they can.” That’s a whole lot more powerful than just saying, “I’m an accountant.”
So instead of telling people what you are, tell them what you do. Lead with a problem and go into your solution, and you will make a much bigger impact on everyone you meet.
About the Author
Gina Rubinstein is Networking and Media Consultant. She helps service-based companies and professionals craft a memorable, compelling response to the question “What do you do?”