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Networking Effectively: How to Answer the Question “What do you do?”

“So what do you do?”

“I sell life insurance.”

“Oh…so you work on commissions?”

What a wasted opportunity. As an insurance agent, personal networking is a great opportunity to meet potential new prospects and referral sources. Parties, seminars, networking events, charity functions, these are all fertile ground for planting the seed for future business.

But how can you prevent the situation above where the all-important “what do you do?” question elicits only a tepid response and a quick change of subject? The key is having a rehearsed answer to this question, commonly known as an “elevator speech,” that conveys in about 10 seconds the value of what you do and intrigues the listener enough that they want to engage in a follow-up conversation.

Here are some simple tips to help you craft an elevator speech that leads to more meaningful conversations and ensures that people leave with an understanding of your business story in addition to your business card.

1. Intrigue them. Being an insurance agent isn’t considered a glamorous job. But when you think about it, what you do really is interesting. You meet with real people who have real problems and help them make life and death decisions to protect what they care about most: their families and their money (hopefully in that order). In other words, it shouldn’t be too tough to make your job sound interesting, because it is interesting.

One technique to make your elevator speech more intriguing is to frame it as an analogy. By comparing your career to something the listener is familiar with, they can instantly picture what it is you do. “I’m like a financial therapist. I work with retirees to show them how to reduce their financial stress and anxieties and how to enjoy their money.”

2. Show your value. Instead of just listing the products you sell, try talking about the benefits your products offer. Better yet, describe the real-world problems you help people solve. Studies show that over 70% of the time, a prospect takes action to solve a pain rather than take advantage of a gain. In other words, saying you help your clients stay off Medicaid carries more weight than saying you help your clients maximize their retirement income.

So, what do you do?

If you have an elevator speech, or you just came up with one after reading this sales tip, type it in the box below.

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