Most people answer that question by not answering it:
“I’m an author” or “I’m a massage therapist” or “I own a design agency” or “I’m a leadership coach”.
Those are not answers, because they say what you are, not what you do.
And people are a lot more interested in the thing we do that makes us different, than they are in the label we put on ourselves.
After all, they asked what you do, not what you are.
For a terrific and inspiring example, consider Seth Godin’s reply, when asked during an interview:
“I notice things for a living, and then I try to point them out to people”.
Wonderful, isn’t it? So perfect for what Seth actually does.
When people ask what you do, you need to know what message to convey in just a few words, that has them see the change you make.
That’s not the same as your ‘elevator pitch’ – instead, it’s simply a verb-based reply to a question.
“I build websites that make you look like a million bucks.”
“I help family businesses thrive, and business families stay together”, which I want my business partner to use.
“I get your team to perform like a finely tuned performance engine.”
“When your business finances aren’t in order, I create that order and highlight where you can save or make more money”.
Simple statements, based on verbs, that simply explain what change you make.
My reply, when asked what I do, is: “I help nice people sell more”.
Which means: People who consider themselves good eggs, and who don’t have limiting beliefs or mental blocks around selling, business or making a profit – and who simply want to get better at enrolling people without feeling awkward.
So what about you?
What is it that you do for a living?
Not what you are, but what do you do, that someone else might value so much, they’d pay money for it?
What value do you create, what change do you make, what does your work do for others?
What is it… that you do?