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"What do you do?"


You meet somebody; exchange names; almost always the next question: What do you do? Most people answer simply with the title on their business card. Next time, use that first opportunity meeting someone to make a lasting impression.

Follow these three dynamics to help you create something to make that happen:

  • Attention-getter

  • Content

  • Memory-maker

Make your answer wow people to ask to hear more. Convey your company’s passion and your own. Craft your content, the words that will capture attention and create a memory of you. And you only have 3-10 seconds to make that happen!

When I first started my firm I told people I did marketing consulting. Even bored myself with that answer! Over the years I have found several different ways to answer the question. Some of my favorites, the ones that have started a connection that have led to actual opportunities:

Non-media public relations

Run a business dating service…fixing up businesses with each other

Maître d’ without a restaurant

Networking architect…helping design and build people networks

Almost every time I use one of these responses, people have asked me to tell them more, an opportunity to use my slightly longer elevator speeches. And I follow the same strategy with those 20-30 second responses: attention-getter, content, memory-maker.

If you really want to capture people’s interest and attention, prepare your answer now for the next time someone asks you, “What do you do?” If it works, use it again; otherwise re-craft it. And even it does work, keep thinking of new answers so you always sound fresh and excited about what you do.


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