With a mixture of relief and amusement several members of the the North Central Mass Chamber of Commerce Sales Leads Group approach me last Wednesday after “Communication Skills for Business Networking” to try out their new answers to the most common business networking question.
“What do you do?”
There’s a good reason that so many confident and articular people can barely mumble a coherent answer to the most common business networking question.
It’s because they’re trying to cram all their hopes and dreams, experience and expertise, knowledge and advice into a single sentence.
It’s too much information — too soon!
So today I’m sharing a simple template and some impromptu coaching from last Wednesday’s live presentation for a restaurateur, a printer, and a member services director.
Meet Rodrigo from Comeketo.
George from Quality Graphics.
And Yasmin from the North Central Mass Chamber of Commerce.
Each had a different question.
Here’s what I suggested to each of them.
I hope the answers help you start better conversations for your business.
Remember, the template for answering “What do you do?” is:
Rodrigo asks how to describe his “<group of people>.”
Anybody and everybody eats at the restaurant.
So how can you narrow it down.
I suggested that business networking is about choosing a particular focus.
To drive growth in a specific area of your business.
Here are three ideas I shared with Rodrigo:
- We help business people impress their prospects by offering a casual yet professional place where they can enjoy great food while networking.
- We offer an alternative to fast-food for families that are looking to help their kids eat healthier.
- We help single people impress their date with our <signature dish> that tastes delicious and isn’t available anywhere else.
I’m not sure which of these (if any) resonate with Rodrigo’s vision for his restaurant.
I do look forward to hearing his thoughts on how he’ll position his restaurant and his signature dish.
George’s first draft was: “I help businesses communicate better with their prospects.”
The challenge is that “communicate” is too vague.
It doesn’t help me understand how he’s going to help my business.
Or when I would talk to him.
Here’s one that’s clearer and more specific:
- I help businesses design brochures, signs, and business cards that attract better prospects.
This way he positions himself as the go-to guy for brochures, signs, and business cards.
I’m willing to bet that no one has ever approached George for help to “communicate better” with their prospects.
I bet a lot of people approach him to print brochures and signs.
Be very specific about what you do.
Yasmin, as Sales and Member Services Manager for the North Central Mass Chamber of Commerce, offers such a broad range of products to such a diverse group of businesses that she was having trouble keeping it short.
Here’s what you’ll hear her say in the coming weeks:
- I help local businesses connect with each other in ways that bring them more customers.
“Local business” is more warm, genuine, and engaging than “small businesses” or “business owners.” It also accurately describes the community focus at this Chamber of Commerce.
“connect” continues to reinforce that sense of community.
“more customers” speaks for itself.
I look forward to hearing from Yasmin about the conversations she starts.
One more thing!
Once you’ve answered the question.
Let the other person absorb the message.
Let the other person make the next move.
If they ask a question, then you’ve started a conversation!
Elevator Pitch Success!
If not, try your same answer on someone else.
In the best case
You’ll only expect to start conversations with 10%-17% of the people you meet.
So, what about you?
What’s your answer to “What do you do?”
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