I‘m always amazed how people stumble and falter when they’re asked what they do for a living. Some actually dread the question.
In the United States, “What do you do?” is the most often asked question in a social or business setting. When someone asks it in a group of people, they are simply looking for a label-a way to categorize you.
“Oh, you’re a lawyer? Well, I’m an accountant and Fred here is an internal medicine specialist.”
But when it is asked in a one-on-one setting, the inquirer is really looking for an answer-not because he has a burning desire to know what you do for a living, but because he wants to know if you can help him or someone in his circle of family, friends and business associates.
This is not a time to be stumbling! It’s not a time to be “wishy-washy.” It is an opportunity to let the inquirer know about your work, to flash a spotlight on your “audio billboard.” You have a few seconds to let the inquirer know what you do in a meaningful and compelling way.
Imagine what you usually answer when someone asks, “What do you do?” is posted on a billboard on a local highway. If you were speeding down the highway and saw it, would you lift your foot off the accelerator so you could slow down to read it? Or would you zoom right past it?
Most of the professionals in my workshops admit that they would keep their foot on the accelerator. Unfortunately, that means that the people who speed through their lives aren’t slowing down to listen to their audio billboard.
When someone asks you what you do, your answer needs to be engaging and compelling. One way to craft an answer that fits this description is to start with two essential questions:
(1) Who do you work with? Or, who do you want to work with? In other words, who is your Target Market? People want to work with specialists. If your specialty is not something they need, they’ll tell you about someone they know who might need your help or they’ll ask you to make an exception to work with them.
(2) What is the need you satisfy for the people you work with? Not the solution you provide, but the need they have.
If you were in the market for an accountant for your three-person practice, would you respond better to the accountant who says, “I’m an accountant,” or to the one who says, “I work with small practitioners who need an accountant who understands their special financial challenges.”?
Use these two questions to create an audio billboard for your business, so that you’re never again caught off guard when someone asks you what you do. Download my “What do YOU do” workbook at www.brassringcoaching.com/resources.html. Then, contact me to arrange a complimentary half-hour coaching session if you need more help.
In the meantime, keep