What Do You Do?

What do you do? It is a seemingly easy question. It may be an invitation for small talk or formal proposal. But how do you respond? What things should you mention? How much should you say? It is an open-ended question that should be easy to answer and yet your response is dictated by where you are, who you are speaking to and what you have to offer them. Yikes!

The basic principle of a good response is to cover as much territory as you can in as small a space as possible. You do not know what will pique their interest, so you want to include as many things as possible that might get the conversation going, with a focus on things that invite follow-up questions. You are pitching you, so make sure you stand out.

There are basically three ways you may be asked to explain what you do. Each has its own nuance’s and requirements

  1. Your elevator speech is about 10 seconds long and is used primarily at networking events to attract potential clients and stimulate discussion. A 1-2 sentence statement that defines who you work with (target market) and the general area in which you help them. You need more than one so you can vary your answer depending on the situation. In the truest sense, this is a conversation starter.
  2. A unique selling proposition (USP) is a statement about what makes you and your firm different from other lawyers/firms. You are creating a competitive differentiation. You have more breathing room with regards to what you can include. A USP is often used in marketing materials or in talking with customers who are ready to buy. USPs have absolutely no impact when customers are satisfied with their situation or when they’re frustrated but haven’t yet decided to change.
  3. Value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a client receives by hiring you. A strong value proposition is specific, often citing numbers or percentages. It may include a quick synopsis of your work with similar clients as proof of your capabilities. This is most often applied to formal proposals, however the ability to articulate your value proposition verbally is essential.

Part of the art is coming up with things to say about you while offering enough detail that makes it easy for people to know how to respond. Being authentic in the manner that you share information will certainly help drive those follow-up questions.

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