Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Turning the Question "So, what do you do?" into a Great Conversation

At a networking event last night someone asked me, "So, what do you do?" It's a question we've all heard thousands of times... I don't know about you, but I frequently stumble as I try to come up with just the right wording that will make sense to the person standing there staring at me. What words do I use that they'll be familiar with? How can I relate what I do to a position or job they can empathize with? How do I present my title and position so that they don't immediately feel superior or inferior? Most importantly, how do I turn their routine question into a conversation spark?

I listened to a podcast several weeks ago from Sterling and Jay's Internet Business Mastery series titled, Fundamental Building Blocks for Achieving Success in Internet Business Pt 1. In the podcast, Sterling and Jay suggest a way to answer the "what do you do" question in a way that is not only easy but ignites interest and is memorable. Rather than prepare a 30 second elevator pitch, come up with two sentences. The first one get's people's attention. The second tells them the value you offer. All in less than 8 seconds. From my experience, that's even close to the amount of time you have to pitch someone walking by your booth at a trade show!

For example, Dale Hensil (he's the guy who put Sterling and Jay onto this idea) says he runs a "Website Orphanage". That description is more shocking and intriguing than simply saying he buys and sells websites. So then he has people's attention and they ask, what does that mean? And that’s when he says, “I pay entrepreneurs for websites when they’ve moved on to better things.” 

Attention grabbed, target audience noted, conversation started. Brilliant!

So I've come up with my own 2 second pitch:

  • Question: "So what do you do?"
  • Answer: "I'm solving the world's health crisis"
  • Question: "What does that mean?"
  • Answer: "I sell interactive tools for wellness professionals and motivated individuals to monitor, analyze and plan exercise and diet which keeps everyone healthier and happier!"
Marketing Lesson Learned: Prepare what you'll say, don't just plan to wing it.