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Monday Mornings with Madison


What do you do?

What do you answer when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Your answer to this question is known as “the elevator speech,” and what this means is that you have thirty seconds to tell someone what you do. And, you either make a connection
or lose it.

Most people get uncomfortable, break eye contact and then give some kind of awkward ‘explanation’ or speech about what they think the other person would expect that they do for a living. The problem with that is: 1) It’s an explanation not an answer. 2) It comes out with uncertainty and embarrassment. 3) In most cases it does not get the other person’s attention.

As businessmen our job is to make contacts all the time. So, we want to have a simple, short answer to the question, “What do you do?” An answer that will do two things: 1) Get the other person’s attention. 2) Encourage him to ask us a question.

The first thing we want to do is to be confident in what we do. The only way others will buy and do business with us, is if we are confident in ourselves and proud of what we do for a living. Most people that we meet use some form of selling in their business, so there is nothing wrong with being proud about what you do. Most people will respect you – if you respect yourself.

I think the easiest way to answer the question is to use a phrase that’s creative and funny. If you simply say, “I am a loan officer” or, “I am a title insurance agent,” although it’s the truth, it will not get the other person’s attention and he will not ask you a question, which is what you want them to do. 

Let’s look at a few examples that others have used:
A life insurance agent, “I am helping people die comfortably”….
A financial planner, “I am a financial plumper”…
A loan officer, “I help people buy their dreams”…
A consultant, “I help companies use up their training budget”….

Although I cannot see you as you read this, I am sure that two things happened:
1) You smiled. 2) It got your attention.

When you make people smile, you break the ice and people get comfortable enough to ask you more about it, without the fear of being pressured into something.  
Most of the time when people ask me what I do for a living, I say, “I help people make money…
I’ve never had a situation where someone just walked away or moved on to another subject without first asking what I meant. And, once they ask, I am in control of the conversation.

Another method that successful people use is to give a quick, simple answer and immediately ask a question. For example, if you are a loan officer you would say, “I am a loan officer with….. Do you rent or own?”

It’s not as good as being funny, but it does give you an opportunity to get more information about the other person and a chance to see how you can help them with something that he needs and that you are an expert in. 

Whatever you say, remember to say it with confidence and keep eye contact.

Sit down and write your answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?” Look in the mirror and say the answer, and see how it feels. Are you confident? Can you say it without anger? Can you smile when you say it?
Work on it, until you can.

“Those who say it cannot be done – should not interrupt those doing it”…

“How can I get the job done and enjoy the process?”

Write a list of services that you personally guarantee to a client, such as “I personally guarantee to return all your phone calls, show up on time for meetings, follow your orders to ensure outstanding service… etc”. Send this in your hand writing or on a letter head, and then follow up with a call, to ask for an appointment. 

If you have a good answer to the question, “What do you do?” or if you cannot figure out a good one for yourself please reply to this email. Or email Thanks.

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