So what do you do? That’s pretty much the defacto opening line after meeting someone at a networking function or social gathering, even a kids’ birthday party, like the ones my wife has been forcing me to go to lately.
I go to the parties so my kids never accuse me later of having been an absent parent in an unhappy childhood. I’ll have video evidence so to speak.
Bored parents asking what
Those videos might also be evidence of the usual rituals we go through at these, unfortunately no-beer gatherings, where I get to field the “So what do you do?” line many times. We’re all just trying to gain relief from the boredom that’s interspersed with kid tantrums and bounce-house mishaps.
So now I’m using my parental sacrifices as a way to weave in the main topic of this article, which is how to answer when someone asks you what you do.
Advice from the Executive Safeguarding Your Future
I got good advice from my friend, professor and financial advisor Robert Bull, who’s title is Experienced International Executive Safeguarding Your Future (yes, that’s his real title). He said it’s not what you do that people care about, but why you do it.
The why engages others and helps them take an interest in what you do. In other words, answering what you do with why you do it is the best way to capture someone’s interest.
What’s the why?
“What do you do?” One answer might be, “I own a mattress store.” Ok, that says a lot and at the same time it doesn’t say much. But think about the “why” and you’ll get a much more interesting answer. One like, “I help people wake up feeling like a million bucks.” Now you’re thinking, “What? Tell me more!”
“What do you do?” The guy sitting next to you might say, “I sell insurance.” You might think “Ehh, not interested.” A better answer could be, “I help families protect themselves and their assets. So if something should happen to you, God forbid, I make sure your loved ones are taken care of financially.” You might get “Oh! How?”
“What do you do?” Instead of “I make mobile phone games,” a better and more business-oriented answer is, “I make games that kids can’t stop playing.” You might hear, “Wow, how do you do that and did you design Pong?”
“What do you do?” At one of the birthday parties, a guy wearing steel-toe boots answered, “I’m a contractor.” After inserting the “why,” the answer could have been “I build buildings that save electricity and are more eco-friendly.”
What’s your why?
My point is that what others care about is your value not your actual service. The value you bring to the relationship is what’s in it for your customers. That’s what they care about.
Answering the “why” and “what’s in it for them” applies to any situation, whether you’re meeting another bored parent at a mindless kid party or a prospective customer at an event. The “why” will guide the way.
For help with the “why,” I’ve found the Wow Pitch iPhone app from my friend and communications coach Anne Freedman to be a tremendous tool. It helped me find the “why” when presenting my mobile marketing services to others.