5 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid When Answering the Question “What Do You Do?”

Is your networking… NOT working?  Are you attending plenty of events,
both social and the typical business events, but just don't seem to get
much of a response or make solid contacts – you know, those connections
that lead to referrals & prospects showing interest in what you do?  

are the trouble lies in how you're answering the typical "What do you
do?" question. It seems that you can't go anywhere without being asked
that question. Perhaps you've come to dread even answering it or you
just mumble some quick response.  

You're probably committing one
or more of the five deadly sins that can transform your answer to the
question "What do you do?" into a missed opportunity!

Don't feel
too bad. You're far from alone.  But if you'd like to get better results
from networking, keep reading to see if you're guilty of any of these
five deadly networking introduction mistakes.    

Here they are…

1. Being too literal – using your label

most common mistake in answering that "What do you do?" question is to
just say your label – job or position title. So you might say, for
example, that you're a mortgage broker, a house painter, a consultant,
an accountant and so on.

So what's the problem with that? Isn't
that what you are?  Well, sure, you and a few thousand others in your
city.  Which makes it all too easy to clump you in with the featureless
competition, and that's not good.  You want to make sure people perceive
your uniqueness, yet unless you differentiate yourself, that's not
going to happen.

And that's not all. Most people will likely
think to themselves, "Do I need that service?"  And if they don't,
they'll dismiss you as not being important.

There's also room for
misunderstandings, especially if they're not familiar with the label
you use, such as spinal care practitioner or color consultant. As well,
they can make assumptions based on past experiences which may not
reflect positively on your services.

2. Describe what you do… in detail!

next deadly mistake is to describe what you DO – in detail. Again,
being a bit too literal as you outline your process and all the
nitty-gritty. It might be interesting to you that you have a 27-step
process to help your clients, but now is not the time to share that
information.  Because guess what? They don't really care!

instead of listening, they'll start backing away from you while looking
for someone more interesting to talk to. Remember, people don't buy what
you DO – they buy what they NEED – the solution to their problem.

3. Being too sales-y

third deadly mistake is to be too sales-y!  This happens all too often.
When someone displays even a polite interest, you could easily
misinterpret that interest as a sales opportunity and try to sell your
new contact on your services. You might do that, for example, by giving
out brochures or invitations to your showroom, pushing to get an
appointment or making special offers.  I've even had someone go so far
as to say "What would it take to get you to sign on the dotted line
right now?" Yikes!!

This is not going to work! Instead, they feel
like you're putting a bulls-eye on them and use them for target
practice!  People will back away and avoid you like the plague.  And
you'll have missed a chance to engage them in a meaningful conversation –
one that may have lead to a sale or referral.

4. Being too vague about whom you work with

people believe that if they make their ideal target clients broad
enough, they'll have more prospects & more sales. That's just not
the case!  

If you're not clear or too vague about WHO your
services are for, i.e., anyone who breathes and will pay you, you're not
going to attract anyone because no one will feel spoken to. Trying to
attract everyone – will usually get you no one.

Unless people
know exactly who your product or services are for, they'll be confused
and you won't get referrals or attract prospects to you.

5. You don't communicate the key problems you solve

you don't focus on your potential clients' needs and can't communicate
clearly the key problems you solve as well as the benefits of your
services specifically, you won't attract anyone.

People are
looking for solutions and so it's important you're able to talk about
your services in a solution-focused manner. They're also looking for
social proof – so make sure to have a few interesting client success
stories you can share. This will help you be remembered and appear more

Recognize yourself in any of these?  Maybe you're guilty of a few of these deadly networking introduction mistakes.  

networking happens everywhere, it's critical to be able to introduce
yourself and talk about what you do in a compelling way in any situation
– yes even standing in line at Starbucks!   

So don't think you
can escape these mistakes by avoiding the typical business networking
events.  I've gotten clients and referrals in all sorts of situations:
from walking Darby, my wire fox terrier, to waiting in line at Safeway
to attending sporting events, social outings, and, of course, the
typical business events.  You see, networking is all about making
connections, and having a powerful and compelling answer to "What do you
do?" is the key to attracting prospects and referrals.


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