Networking Tip No1: Answer ‘What Do You Do?’ the Right Way

What's your name and what do you do?

Is ‘What do you do?’ not your favorite question, because you don’t know how to answer it? Then I have a great tip for you. Correctly, I should say Michael Port has this simple but unbelievably valuable tip.

In his book “Book Yourself Solid” he writes: “The typical response is. ‘I’m a business consultant,’ or ‘I’m a massage therapist,” or ‘I’m a graphic designer.’ Unfortunately, a polite nod or comment, or worse yet, an awkward silence and a completely blank stare follow.”

Does this sound familiar to you? That was exactly my problem and mine got even worse, because into more different fields I ventured the more impossible it became to find a job description that would describe what I actually did correctly and completely. Obviously, the profession category is the wrong answer to the question “What do you do?”.

For a solution, Michael Port describes how long, mid-length, and short version of good answers can be constructed based on an exercise that go along with his book. Basically, we should want to give our answer through a dialogue. However, when there is not much time the short version needs to do. I always struggled with the short answer; you may also call it an elevator pitch. For this, you first define your target market and the “results and deepest benefits your clients receive” and then combine these into one or two sentences.

For example, “I help small business owners safe a lot of money by maximizing their tax benefits.” or “I make sure nobody has to freeze in the middle of winter because the heater fails”. Although “Book Yourself Solid” is aimed at service professionals I find this method works for pretty much every profession, because we always serve someone, if it is the tax payer or just our employer. Thus it could be “I make sure my boss doesn’t have to deal with too many phone calls and emails, so he can focus on the core business.”

 

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