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The one question every business owner MUST be able to answer correctly

Unsplash: Brooke Larke

With today’s technology and the ability to easily communicate virtually, face-to-face networking has officially become a challenge.

I spent several days on a business trip. Ordinarily, this would be easy. But this trip was much different from many of my previous trips and here’s why:

  • First time meeting 100% of the people
  • They all knew one another, but I was the “new person”

I was there for several days, networking with new people each day. Networking for an hour or two, within a new group, is always easy. Networking for a full week – much different! Each day, I met new people and tried to strike up new conversations. It was a challenging time.

DAYS 1 & 2

Every person I met asked me the same question…. “So, what do you do?”
I replied with the simple and easy response, “I’m a consultant working with the team as project manager.” This answer was met with a blank stare, followed by, “Oh, ok. Nice to meet you.” And that was the end of the conversation. AWKWARD!

After two days of these types of exchanges, followed by the familiar blank stare, I finally realized that describing myself as a project manager, or a consultant, says absolutely NOTHING about what I do.

As a business owner/entrepreneur, when someone asks, “What do you do?” what they’re really asking you is… “What is your unique value proposition?”

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a person or organization should buy from you. In other words, you’re not just an accountant. You’re not just a florist. You’re not just a counselor, etc.  Your value proposition should serve as follows:

• EXPLAIN who you are (professional identity)
• IDENTIFY your target audience (relevancy)
• RELAY how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy),
• DELIVER specific benefits/tells the customer why they should buy from you (quantified value and unique differentiation),

I once attended a webinar, where the presenter explained that if you don’t explain, “what you do” correctly, it will likely result in:

  1. Missed opportunities for new business
  2. Missed opportunities for leads or referrals
  3. People will forget who you are


On the evening of day two, I went back to my hotel room and searched my computer for my value proposition.

“I help individuals, teams and organizations create and execute effective project plans so they can move from where they are, to the goals or initiatives they desire to reach, within their time, cost and resource constraints.”

Of course, I shortened this for the purposes of face-to-face communication.


With my value proposition properly thought out, I was armed and ready on the morning of day three. Here’s what happened when I answered the same question (What do you do?) using my Value Proposition:

“I’m a project manager. I work with companies to develop and manage project plans from start to finish. I’m here to guarantee all resources are working together properly and communication is clear, so you can reach your end goal, by your deadline date and on budget.”

This value proposition accomplishes the following:

  1. Identifies me as a professional (project manager)
  2. Explains my product (development and management of the project plan, management of resources and communication)
  3. Speaks directly to the target market
  4. Delivers a promised transformation & benefits (guaranteed to reach your end goal, on time and on budget)

One hundred percent of the time, my value proposition answer was followed by another question, “What companies have you worked with in the past?” That was my opportunity to establish credibility by mentioning some of the top, Fortune 500 companies that trust my work. This also opened the door for me to explain that I’ve been doing this type of work for several years, mention a few key projects I’ve worked on, and follow with a request to exchange business cards to keep in touch. Once back in the office, I was able to set up a time to continue the conversations over coffee or via conference call. I’ll explain how to follow-up in a future post. Meanwhile, please keep reading. It gets better!

Now that you understand how effective the Value Proposition can be to your business, I don’t want you to get stuck in a situation where you miss an opportunity to explain, “what you do”. Take advantage of my FREE 10-minute Value Proposition Development Session so you are better prepared the next time you network in a room full of prospective clients.

In just 10 minutes, you’ll have your Unique Value Proposition and it will totally change the way you do business, setting you apart from competitors. Click here to respond and we’ll schedule your free session right away. Without this, you are missing opportunities to grow your network and your business. Act Now by clicking here!

If you enjoyed this post, hit like and share it. Someone in your network may need this information. I also welcome your comments and other networking tips. Post below.

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