So, What Do You Do? Answering the Question to Provide Opportunities

We all encounter the question: “So, what do you do?”  It’s a question that is loaded with opportunity. It opens the door for so much!  This question gives you the chance to make an impact that could lead to a new friendship, professional camaraderie, business referrals or work opportunities. Of course, how you answer the question defines if you will have an option to grab onto the opportunities.

The key to answering the seemingly simple question successfully? Preparation. Crafting a few quick pitch responses to this question will give you the confidence and insight to take advantage of the moment as it presents itself. It is important to engage people in easy-to-understand language. Take the opening to tell a short story that evokes feelings that the listener can relate to. Both of these tactics give you a better chance of being remembered in the future. Here are few considerations:

  • Keep it simple. As professionals, it is easy to get caught up in industry-speak. It’s important to remember that not everyone knows your particular industry terms.  In fact, it is much more pleasant to speak with someone who is more down-to-earth and relevant. Try this simple exercise to get yourself aligned with ‘regular-speak’:
    • Jot down the things you do (or want to do more of) on a piece of paper. Don’t give this a lot of thought, but rather freely write things down using your industry language.
    • Translate those industry terms into every day language.  (For example, think ‘buy & sell’ instead of ‘acquisition & disposition’)
    • Create small phrases using the simplified language.
    • Link the phrases together to make a couple speakable sentences that anyone can digest.
  • Identify a relevant story to explain what you do for people that others can feel good about. (For example, you helped a young dentist purchase a practice to launch his career.)
  • Practice until it flows naturally. It is important to say the words in your pitch or story out loud so that you feel comfortable telling the stories and talking about your work. Natural delivery makes you believable and trustworthy.
  • Be real. Honesty and emotion are equally important to delivering a memorable quick pitch. Don’t be afraid to tell the listener how much you love a certain aspect of your work.
  • Keep it brief and then turn it around to the other person. No one wants to listen to anyone drone on about themselves. Deliver your quick story and then return the question to the person you are speaking to. Listen intently and make connections that support positive feelings about their line of work.

As the insightful Maya Angelou explained, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  This powerful statement resonates on so many levels. By practicing your response, you will always help your listener to feel your sincerity.