How To Get The Most Out Of The Question – What Do You Do?

by Marketing Your Business32 comments

It never fails. You go to a networking event or you meet someone casually and introduce yourself. Then the obvious questions comes up; “What do you do?”. There’s pretty much no escaping this question. It’s like a script that we’ve all been secretly given that comes so naturally that we don’t think about it before it pours out of our mouths.

While we’ve all become accustomed to hearing the question, strangely, most entrepreneurs (whether they’re christian businesses or not) get stuck with how to effectively answer this seemingly simple question.

So what do we do when we hear this? For the unprepared, it goes something like this:

Carla: Good to meet you John.

John: Same to you Carla. So, what do you do?

Carla: (contemplating her answer, especially if she has multiple business ventures) Well, I, um, I’m a dog trainer. I’m also a bookkeeper.

John: Oh, that sounds cool.

BAM – John is suddenly disconnected mentally and most likely physically. 

But why?

First, if this is a networking event, he’s looking for business leads and contacts and his first impression was most likely that you’re in multiple businesses so are probably just starting out or haven’t taken the business seriously. While one may be a full time thriving business and the other may be something you enjoy doing, it’s the first impression so you don’t have the opportunity to explain your motives or reasons. First impressions matter.

The other reason he’s disconnected is because stating our position doesn’t extend the conversation or what I call “baiting” the conversation. This is where you say something that draws someone in deeper into the conversation where they become interested in knowing more without you trying to force their interest. You’re laying the Conversation Bait and see if they’ll catch.

Before properly structuring your answer though, you have to realize the environment you’re in. If you’re at an informal environment, then you can choose which of your “businesses” you’d like to introduce yourself with if you do have more than one. Don’t ever start with more than one thing though so you don’t appear like a rookie. When the conversation expands and the moment arrises, you can definitely bring in your other interests.

If you only have one business and you’re at a business event, then you don’t have to select what you’ll share, you just need to focus on how to communicate what you do.

The first step is to realize that the question really isn’t about you. They’re asking what you do but are really wanting to know “what can you do for me”. That changes things because it removes the need to use “I am”, “We do”, etc. Remember, it’s not about us.

Since it’s not about us, you should say who it is about or who are the people you serve. When you tell people who you serve, they begin to search in their minds people who fit that description; themselves or others they know.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Teacher

Did your mind start searching for a teacher you know? I’m pretty sure you did.

The next step is to focus on the results people get from what you do. In other words, communicate what you do in terms of the benefits people get from you.

Let’s put this in practice. Here’s what the above conversation may sound like using these tips.

Carla: Good to meet you John.

John: Same to you Carla. So, what do you do?

Carla: I help busy professionals (the who) save valuable time (the benefit) by walking their dogs (what you do) so they can start their day more productive (the benefit) knowing that their dog is well taken care of.

John: That sounds great. How do you do that?

Now you have their attention.

You set up the Conversation Bait, they connected and related and now you have an opportunity to take the conversation further.

Now it’s your turn to create your Conversation Bait you can use when you’re asked “What do you do”

What do you do?

I help _______________ (who) _______________  (benefit) by _______________ (what you do) so they can _______________ (benefit).

Pretty simple huh? It may take you a couple minutes but doing this will elevate your engagement next time someone asks you this question.

Here’s my Conversation Bait:

I help Christian entrepreneurs and business owners create more profitable and purposeful businesses by providing them with proven marketing strategies so they can get more customers and clients, save more time and cut their advertising costs.

Now it’s your turn. Take 3 minutes and post your Conversation Bait below. Keep it simple while following the short format. I think you’ll love what you come up with.


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