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How to talk about what you do


For many business owners, the #1 trickiest and most terrifying question in the entire world is:

“So, what do you do?”

Cue: bone-rattling chills and screams and horror.

Either you say something that sounds “creative” but makes zero sense:

You: I’m a Prosperity Priestess who embodies love and hope and moonbeams.

Other person: Huh?

Or you say something super dry and boring and then clam up.

You: I’m a business coach.

Other person: Oh [yawn] I have to use the bathroom.

Or you babble too much, dribbling on and on apologetically.

You: I own a brunch restaurant. Down the street. It’s really good! There’s always a wait. Well, not too much of a wait. You should come. It’s really good!

Other person: I don’t like waiting.

You can avoid this grim fate by crafting an “obsession-worthy introduction.” Some people call this an “elevator pitch” or a “15-second pitch.” I call it an “introduction” because… that’s what it is. 🙂

The key is to keep your introduction brief, conversational, and enticing. You don’t have to explain every single aspect of your business in one or two sentences. You don’t have to try to “sell” anything. You just have to say a teensy bit about your work—just enough to make the other person think, “I’m intrigued! Tell me more!”

Want to start crafting your introduction?

Here are 7 different approaches you can try:


#1. I’m a _____. People typically hire me when _____.


Example: I’m a business advisor. People typically hire me when they’re just starting their business, and they need to bring money through the door ASAP, but they have zero clients and no idea where to begin.



#2. I run a website where I _____.


Example: I run a website where I post articles about travel, food, music, and culture. And I also write travel guidebooks for people who want to see the world, but who are working with a super limited budget.



#3. I work in the _____ industry. I do _____. I’m currently working on/with _____.


Example: I work in the professional development industry. I do coaching and seminars for teams in corporate environments, particularly teams that are tackling big projects with really tight deadlines. I’m currently working with a team of shoe designers at Nike, which has been super fun!



#4. I’m a _____. I specialize in _____. I also _____.


Example: I’m a writer. I specialize in helping people to self-publish memoirs and collections of personal essays. I also teach people how to start awesome blogs, even if they don’t have much previous writing experience.



#5. I’m a _____. Currently, I’m working on _____.


Example: I’m a yoga teacher, writer, and illustrator. Currently, I’m working on a comic book that teaches kids about yoga… with illustrated yoga routines that you can follow along at home, while you read!



#6. Currently, I _____. But my passion is _____.


Example: Currently, I manage a retail store downtown. But my passion is… organizing. I recently started a home organizing business… and by this time next year, I intend to be doing that full time! I am obsessed with making things tidy, serene, and beautiful. What’s your #1 obsession right now?



#7. Guess!


Have the other person guess what your profession is, then you guess theirs, then both of you reveal the truth. This isn’t appropriate for every situation, but if you’re at a dinner party, a cocktail hour meet-up, or some other “casual” setting, try it! It’s a fun and silly ice-breaker that immediately melts the tension.


Choose one of those approaches, or swirl a few of them together to create a version that makes sense for you.

Write out your introduction. Then practice saying it a few times out loud, as if you’re having a conversation.

Does it sound like you? Do you trip over your words?

If it feels too long and clunky, do some tightening. Say less. A lot less. It’s OK—remember, you don’t have to explain everything about your business (every product, every service, every type of project, every subtle nuance) in this quickie introduction. Give a little taste, not a word-buffet.

Then, test your introduction on a few people—ideally existing clients and customers, or people who match your ideal client profile. Do they ask follow-up questions (“Ooh, tell me more!”) or do they just stare at you in total bewilderment?

It can take a bit of refining before you wind up with an obsession-worthy introduction that feels jusssst right. Keep at it! After a couple of tries, you’ll get there.

If you liked this exercise, then you’ll love my year-long program for entrepreneurs, freelancers, coaches and consultants: OBSESSED.

We do exercises like this—every single week—and you get my feedback on every completed exercise/assignment that you post. Whoop whoop!

If you haven’t scoped out the details yet, you can learn all about OBSESSED right here. I’d love to have you in the program for the 2017 session!

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