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Getting out there and networking is important for your VA business. However, there’s one particular question that gets asked at all networking events, that will inevitably fill you with a sense of dread. And that question is – what do you do? 

We may struggle to come up with a suitable answer, but it’s one you need to know how to answer effectively, if you want to build your contacts and grow your business. So here’s some pointers to help.

Why we struggle to answer this question

Let’s start by looking at why we find the question ‘What do you do?’ so difficult to answer. There are so many reasons why we struggle with it. Partly, it’s because it’s a typical small talk opening gambit at most networking events, but also because we know how important it is to answer it right!

Other common reasons why we struggle, include:

  • We don’t like being defined by what we do
  • It’s difficult to summarise in a sentence the wide array of things we do
  • Being put on the spot is something that we dislike
  • Our lack of self belief and/of confidence may kick in and we go shy and downplay our merits
  • We simply have no idea how to answer it

You need to know how to answer this question!

But the bottom line is, no matter how you feel about the question or how you feel about being asked ‘What do you do?’, you do need to have a suitable answer in mind.

There’s actually a lot riding on your answer. Your response will leave a lasting impression with the listener – and that impression isn’t just based on your answer, but how you deliver it, your body language during its delivery and how your answer made the listener feel.

You want to leave them with a good impression of you, but you also potentially want them to consider why they should care. And ultimately, you want them to maybe help you spread the word about how much of an awesome VA you are, so you can grow your network and get more clients into your business!

Your answer will set a precedent for the future

People make assumptions about us, based on what we do for a living. For example, an accountant may be seen as boring, or someone in sales is perceived as pushy or a smooth-talker. 

But your answer will also dictate how the listener responds to you. They may switch off, as they have no need for your services. Their body language could change to a closed stance, as they’re waiting to get sold to or waiting for a potentially boring conversation to start. They may even be looking to end the conversation and make a quick exit!

What you want is for them to give you a chance, by getting to know you better. You want them to understand how you help others and ultimately, start thinking about how you could potentially help them or others in their networking circles. You basically want them to have a lasting good impression of you and your business.

So how do you answer the ‘What do you do’ question?

What’s important to remember is there is ‘no right or wrong’ answer here. What’s more important is that you answer in a way that is interesting and potentially sets you up for continued conversation. Here’s a few potential answers you can use:

  • Talk about how you help people – focus on your ideal client, not you. For example, ‘I’m someone who helps…’ or ‘I help…’.
  • Opt for a problem/solution type response. ‘Do you know how many business owners struggle to manage a new online product launch? Well, as a VA I help take some of the guesswork out of launching and I manage the launch for them.
  • Start with a fact and go from there. ‘Did you know that 53% of business owners struggle with work admin? That’s why I decided to start my VA business – I’m passionate about back office organisation and I really wanted to help other business owners to free up their time and ultimately, grow their business.’

Once you’ve answered the question, expand on the conversation, by immediately following it up with a question for the listener. By turning the conversation back to them, you’re giving them a chance to talk about their favourite subject – their business!

Want to ease how uncomfortable you feel at answering?

So now you’re a little clearer on how to answer ‘What do you do?’, here’s some ways you can get more comfortable with saying your response!

#1: Focus on what you want to highlight about your business 

You can focus on how you contribute, but you can also focus on specific tasks you love doing for others. You don’t have to default to ‘I’m a VA.’ In fact, you don’t even have to give what you do a specific title!

#2: Keep it short, but not too short!

Think more 1-2 sentence elevator pitch, rather than a 3 word answer.

#3: Get comfortable with your answer 

And put a little passion behind it. This boosts your confidence and gives over an air of authority, trust and passion. 

#4: Practice your response

The more you say it, the more natural it will sound – and the more confident you’ll be. And remember to smile when you are saying it!

#5: Be confident in your delivery 

Confidence is contagious, so by practicing it and getting comfortable with delivering your answer, you’ll naturally become confident in your delivery.

Networking is important for your VA business and it’s inevitable that you are going to be asked the question ‘What do you do?’ during a networking event. But it doesn’t have to lead to a bumbled quick response, nor the start of a boring conversation! 

By following the advice above, you’ll not only have a good response, you’ll also be on your way to delivering your answer in a much more confident manner!

Oh, and if you’re new to networking here’s some pointers to help with starting conversations at networking events. And if you’re looking for a much better question to ask the people you meet, why not check out this article from Buffer? It has 27 questions that are much better to ask, instead of the bulk standard ‘What do you do?’!

If you’d like to build your networking muscles and want help and support with growing your VA business, why not check out VA Membership? Our monthly membership is a perfect resource for you, as it is affordable, practical, and has all the VA business training you need (including networking help!), to create and grow your own awesome VA business. You can check it out for just £1, with our trial option – you’ll find all the details here.

How to answer the question ‘What do you do?’