Be the first one to ask them ‘What do you do?’
Wait until you find out what you have in common with the person you are having conversation with and them be the first to ask ‘So, what do you do?‘ It is the way to be most comfortable, most in control, most appreciated, most interesting and most networked. If you ask first you’ll get valuable information to use in your answer when they ask you.
If you reply by naming your business classification, they will either make a joke about your profession or start naming your competition. It is not possible to make any money when your conversation partner is naming your competition. This is what Wendy Kinney teaches in her book ‘Networking Aerobics’.
Sure, you can try what I have done recently and re-route the conversation: the winner of my give away at a local business association meeting (well, the prize was 2 delicious brownies that can be sent as a gift with a greeting card) said that she is very familiar with my product and tried to remember the name of the person who first mentioned the product to her.
I said, that I am not interested in the name, but very interested to know if she herself has a free account to use the product. I got a commitment to meet with her for a demo, but still, it is better to not risk it. Don’t use your pigeon hole (don’t name your business classification), there is no money in it. Unless you do not want to have a conversation. Pigeon hole = conversation over. Works every time.
Back to be the first to ask – they will answer, and then ask you. You will be able to customize your response (rather than give them cute/nothing or elevator pitch), you will sound like you have been paying attention to them and they will like that about you, because you made them feel good.
Here are some tips to craft a profitable answer. You goal is to make this new acquaintance remember you, right? Tell them a story of how your client had a Problem, you took an Action, and here are your client’s Results. People remember stories. Write down on 3×5 cards 100 stories to fit any situation. And finish your stories with what your prospective client wants (result, that is), so they can refer people to you.
If they don’t ask you what you do, don’t worry – this is just your first contact. You will stay in touch with them, remember the stats – 80% of the time it takes 5 or more contacts before they do business with you or refer to you.
Ready to hear about business cards tomorrow?