“What Do You Do?”


The question most people ask when they meet you for the first time is “What do you do?” Why do they ask this question?

The question is used to screen you as fast as possible!

First, they do want to know how you make a living.

Second, they want to know where your box is on the societal hierarchy as compared to theirs.

Third, once they know what your box is they very quickly make up their mind about you. They determine this from their preconceived ideas about what kind of people fit into that box. And if they currently have no use for someone that fits into that box, they will stop listening to you and be thinking of something else.

Most of us answer the question the same way, whether we are entrepreneurs or not.

We give our:

  1. Name
  2. Company name
  3. Product or service
  4. Public intro, such as… we specialize in working with…

We give them all the information they need to put us in the box that they can then judge us by.

And what are they mostly judging you by? Your product or service and their past encounters with people that make a living selling those particular products or services.


Unless they have an immediate need for your product or service, they want to know as fast as possible what it is, and move on. Most of the time people aren’t interested in what we are selling. They are interested in selling what they have to sell to you. Part of that mindset is created by the question, “What do you do?” It puts people into a business and selling mindset. What if the question instead was, “Who are you?”

As small business owners or professionals, we need to sell ourselves first, not our product or service. Showing our authentic self, our great personality, and things that make us special are what we need to show first so that people do want to know who we are.

But before that, we must think about who we want to sell to, find out what they are most concerned about and determine if we can help them solve those concerns, and be able to communicate to them in a way they will receive it and in a way that is authentic and sincere.

So when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Instead of telling them the typical response, you could for example, tell them a real story about how you help your clients or customers. Don’t tell them your name, your company name, your product or service until the end. Make your answer be about “THEM” not “YOU.”

Capture their imagination and emotions, not their rational mind. Remember, people buy emotionally, not rationally. Bring them into your story and helped them feel your passion for helping.

You want them to be intrigued by your story and you, not your product or service. They don’t care how (which is your product or service) you help them, they just want to know you care and understand where they are coming from and that you can help them.

Think about it. Unless you are in a situation where things are sticking out of your body, that you don’t want to be sticking out of your body, you don’t care about how a doctor in the  emergency room is going to fix you, you just want to know they can and do it as fast as possible!


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