It is maybe the most asked question at networking events, yet it is not uncommon to stumble when answering the seemingly simple question “What do you do?” While you certainly know the answer, verbalizing it is a bigger challenge. And here is a tip: the answer is NOT to recite the title on your business card!
I think of an effective personal tag line as an invitation to a conversation – it captures enough interest to keep the interest of whomever you are talking with. If your answer is boring, too long or confusing they will likely check out. If, instead, your answer is clear, compelling and concise they will probably want to keep talking to you.
So what is YOUR personal tag line?
There are two keys to conquering this challenge effectively:
The first is to think about the question in a new light, and compose answers that are relevant yet different. Avoid industry jargon or long, overly technical explanations; your goal is to find an original description of what you actually do, who you do it for, and why it matters – what value do you deliver?
Consider these very different answers to that tricky question “So, what do you do?”
Good: I work for a bank.
Better: I’m a mortgage broker.
Best: I assist people in making what is usually the single biggest purchase of their lives — their home.
Good: I work in high tech.
Better: I’m in HR for a multi-media software company.
Best: I’m in charge of employee retention for a great company called Tech for Girls, where we develop educationally oriented interactive games for pre-teen girls.
The second key to success with a personal tag line is to rehearse it until it flows naturally. As you wrestle with a unique way to talk about your job and your company, try writing different versions down on paper. This will help you refine your ideas. Practice your tag line with your spouse, friends or co-workers and get their feedback.
Once you have refined your tag line, practice, practice, practice! Taking the time to perfect your presentation will make you more comfortable and confident when it comes time to say it to someone you don’t actually know. Remember, your personal tag line is always a work in progress so update and amend it as necessary. Your goal is to deliver relevant information while capturing the interest of a new contact.