By michelle_pgs | November 9, 2013

Whenever I’m at a networking meeting, or in any kind of business environment where people are meeting for the first time, I’m always listening out for how people answer the question “What do you do”. And how the person who asked them the question responds to the answer they hear.

How often have you answered this question and watched the person you are speaking to start to look disinterested? Maybe their eyes glaze over? Or do they start looking around the room to see who else is there? (Maybe you’ve done the same when you’ve heard someone else answering this question in a boring way?).

Does that mean the person you are talking to isn’t interested in your services? Not necessarily.

You see, the problem is not necessarily you, or your services. The problem is likely to be the way you answer the question.Most people answer this question with a description of their job. Usually their job title.

How many times have you heard people say “I’m a property lawyer” or “I’m an accountant” or “I’m a management consultant”?

That doesn’t give the person you’re talking to any reason to think you are different from any of the other lawyers, accountants, or consultants they have met. And unless they are specifically looking for someone with your job title (or know someone who is) you’re unlikely to be asked for your business card.

So how can you say what you do in a way which engages your audience?


Step 1: Understand The Question

The starting point is to understand what question you are really being asked when you hear “What do you do?” The person asking it will normally be thinking “do I need to know you?” or “can you help me?”. That may sound harsh, or even selfish, but we are all busy and we all want to spend our time wisely. So when you answer the question, you need to help them understand whether or not you are someone they need to know, or whether you can help them.

Step 2: Describe who you help and how

For someone to really understand whether you can help them (or anyone they know), they need to know 3 things.

  1. Who you help – be as specific as you can e.g. couple about to get married
  2. What problems do you help them with (or what goals do you help them achieve) e.g. avoid losing their assets if they separate?
  3. The results, outcome, or transformation you help them achieve – this means the ultimate result your clients will achieve (e.g. their assets will be protected and they’ll have peace of mind), not the method (e.g. I arrange a prenuptial agreement)

Step 3: Demonstrate why they can believe or trust you Lots of people claim to be able to do lots of things. If you’ve only just met someone, you need to give them a reason to believe that you can help your clients achieve the transformation or outcome you’ve just described. The best way to do that is to mention a case study or story about someone you helped recently and the results they achieved. This shows you are working with real clients, getting real results, and it’s not all “puff”. This is essential. What’s more, once you’ve told a story about someone you’ve helped, the person you are talking to is more likely to remember what you’ve said. We naturally remember stories.

Want a copy of my step-by-step template for answering “What Do You Do?”

If you’d like a copy of the step-by-step template I use for answering this question, then simply click the button below and I’ll send you a copy. Then you can plug your own information into my template and you’ll be ready to go. The next time you talk about what you do, the person who asked you the question won’t be wondering whether or not they need to know you or whether you can help them – they will instantly know.


If you want me to walk you through the template and help you figure out a sizzling reply that works for you, then book a 15min Focus session with me in which we’ll work on your answer together.

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