When asked the question “What do you do?” people most often state their title and company, or maybe the industry they work in. Either way, this kind of answer is a wonderful way to bore your listeners and let the conversation fall back into more small talk—a.k.a. nowhereland.
Well, I’m not going to let you do that. No sir-ee Bob. I want you to be outstanding and be remembered by others.
So, how about giving your introduction some life? Turn it into a clever marketing tool that drives the conversation forward. You never know what kinds of meaningful connections and business opportunities may come out of answering such a simple question.
How did you respond the last time someone asked you “What do you do?” Perhaps you said something like, “I work for an accounting firm that does tax returns for small businesses,” or simply, “I’m an accountant.”
An introduction like that gives little or no value to the people you’re talking to.
Unless your listener is truly interested in your particular field, then they won’t have any desire to continue the conversation with you. They will either excuse themselves, start talking to someone else in the group, or revert to more small talk just to be polite.
The next time someone throws this all-too-common question at you, make sure you have something witty to shoot back at them. Prepare a compelling one-liner that communicates your single biggest customer benefit. Give them a line that cuts right through small talk like butter, and turns your business or career into the topic of conversation. John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing calls this type of pitch your ‘talking logo.’
Spice it up
How do you create one for yourself? Spice it up, of course! Keep reading, and hopefully you’ll be turning small talk into conversations in no time.
For the accountant, here are a couple responses with a dab of hot sauce added. “I help small businesses pay less tax,” or, “I help small business owners save more money every year.”
I’ll admit, it’s not exactly Shakespeare (or David Ogilvy) material, but if it leaves the questioner wanting more, then you’ve done well. If your answer is intriguing, they will immediately ask you another question: “How do you do that?” Keep in mind, your answer to this second question is just as vital as the first one. Have a good follow-up ready, and keep focus on your customer benefits.
Sterling and Jay’s wicked one-liner
Jeremy and Jason from Internet Business Mastery have a fantastic response, which I learned about in one of their podcast episodes. (By the way, Internet Business Mastery teaches people how to quit their job, live the life they always wanted, and make a living with Internet business.)
Jay said that if he simply said, “I run a membership website that teaches people how to do Internet business,” then people wouldn’t really care much. They’d be asking themselves why that matters. What’s the big deal? Many other people run membership websites too.
So what is their line? “I’m a cubicle escape artist.”
Excellent! Anyone who hears this would be compelled to ask how they do it, or what it means exactly. Of course, they would go on to explain themselves, while everyone else listened intently.
“I show working moms how to save time and get more done around the house.”
Herbal tea company
“I offer people healthy relaxation in a cup.”
Wholesaler of enviro-friendly products
“I help retail business owners save the world.”
Business startup coach
“I start new entrepreneurs off on the right foot.”
Small business consultant
“I help small business owners cut their overhead costs in half.”
Business coach with a focus on freelance professionals
“I show freelancers how to triple what they charge.”
Your response, intro, pitch, or talking logo (whatever you want to call it) should be compelling, concise, and focus on your biggest customer benefit. And there are different ways this can be formed.
You can make one for yourself right now using this formula. It’s a statement in the active voice:
I + [verb] + [target market] + [benefit].
Break out your purple creative cap and get the juices flowing. What will you say the next time someone asks you, “What do you do?”