How Will You Answer the Question? We’re going to be doing a lot of socializing in the next week, aren’t we? With the 4th of July on Tuesday, people are already planning a loooong weekend. What do we talk about at those gatherings? "What do you do?" is very often the first question you get in social situations. No matter where you’re celebrating, it’s likely someone will wonder about your work. You want to talk about what you do in a way that piques their interest. And gives them a clue why somebody might engage you or hire you or donate to your cause. The same thing comes up at structured networking meetings in what's often called the “elevator speech.” I’ve gotten away from that language, myself. Think about it. When you meet someone, wherever you are, do you want to hear a speech? No. You want to have a conversation. So, I encourage my clients to play with what they want people to know about them and their work. To keep it light. And to vary what they say, depending on who's listening.
Loneliness is dangerous. Maybe you’ve made the same mistake. Dr. Vivek Murthy had been the U.S. Surgeon General during the Obama and Trump administrations. When his tenure ended in 2017, he found himself in a pickle. Dr. Murthy had been working long hours, spending most of his time with government colleagues, neglecting other friends and even family. When his gig caved in, those work connections ended right along with it. The newly unemployed Dr. Murthy found himself alone. And lonely. He blamed himself for having failed to nurture friendships in favor of focusing on his work and professional relationships.
Love him or loathe him, you have to admit Donald Trump is brilliant at capturing attention, creating enthusiasm, and generating solid, unwavering support from a big chunk of the American electorate. He vanquished a boatload of primary opponents and he’s held his own against Hillary Clinton. All that in spite of editorials blasting him, commercials calling him names, and well-reasoned critiques from Republicans who by rights should be on his side. What gives?
What problem do your clients or customers have?
If they’re like most of us, they have plenty of problems.
You likely solve one specific problem for them, though. What is that problem? The one that nags at them. The one they know they need to solve if they’re going to succeed. The one that practically begs for your expertise. Listening to business owners who are looking to launch or grow their companies lately, I’ve noticed how many of them struggle with “What problem do your customers have?” Their responses are surprisingly mushy, hesitant … they seem to be talking around the issue, feeling their way toward an acceptable answer. No wonder they’re running into roadblocks as they seek funding or other support … or clients. It’s hard to get a handle on what they do … and for whom. Much less on why anyone would want it.