Answering “So, What Do You Do For A Living?”

By Sabrina Risley

One of the most popular questions asked of the professional at a networking event is “So, what do you do for a living?” or “What is your business?” Many can’t wait for their opportunity to share their story, yet answering this question is often worrisome to professionals. How should you answer and where do you start? 
My studies have taught me that there are a few key factors to bear in mind before diving into your answer.  
Be confident. Let others see how excited you are about your products or services. If you are not excited, others won’t be either. 
Just be yourself. Be authentic and let your personality shine through. People buy from and refer to people they know and have come to like and trust so let them get to know the real you.
Be clear and concise. Prepare your answer in advance if needed so you can remain focused and to the point. Refrain from outlining the many products and services you offer as this can be overwhelming to the other person.
Do not sell. All you want to do is pique the other person’s interest. If they ask follow up questions, expand a little but don’t push too hard. Provide information as they continue to ask questions either because they are curious, perhaps interested in buying or they may have someone in mind to refer to you.  However, avoid going into “hard sell” mode.
Highlight the benefits. Perhaps the most important is to focus on the benefits you provide and how you or your products/services help others.   For example, if you are an accountant with a firm that provides tax, bookkeeping, and payroll services, you want to focus on what these services help others achieve. What is the benefit you provide your clients?
Accountant: I take the frustrating tasks off my clients’ hands and, in the process, help them save thousands of dollars each year.
Personal Trainer: I help people reclaim their confidence and easily maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Personal Chef:  I bring families back to the dinner table to reconnect and catch up on their day.
Help them understand. As follow up questions are asked, a great way to boil it down is to explain your ideal client. 
Accountant: My ideal client is a small business owner who complains about filing tax returns. I can help them set up a system or take the task off their hands and keep them compliant.
Personal Trainer: A good referral for me is the frustrated yo-yo dieter.  I’ve helped many lose weight who had previously complained that their dieting efforts never paid off.
Personal Chef:  My clients tend to be dual-income families with children who have trouble getting dinner on the table to eat together as a family.
Bob Burg (co-author of Go-Givers Sell More) reminds us of the sales expression:   You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person, and you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person
So don’t get too caught up in your answer or a specific outcome you want to achieve. Focus on the benefits, how you help others, be yourself, and keep it short and sweet. If the person you’re speaking with isn’t interested in your product/service, perhaps they know someone who is.
(c) 2010 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 


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Sabrina Risley

Sabrina Risley is a master connector. She’s been hosting live networking events since 2004 and has welcomed 20,000+ professionals to those events. She shares her observations, insights and tips of how the top 2% of effective and magnetic networkers build their businesses. She also shares what NOT to do when networking. Get her complimentary e-book: Strategic Networking for Success.
Sabrina Risley

3 thoughts on “Answering “So, What Do You Do For A Living?””

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