What Do You Do?

You’re at a networking event. Mingling and conversing with people you’ve never met. There are tons of questions to ask. But one that gets asked more than anything.

What do you do?

Red and white puzzle pieces

Image by Patrick Hosely

Without a thought we normally spew out the simple answer. Stating the career we’re in. Or what we do professionally.

And we state it in simplistic terms.

  • I work in IT
  • I’m an accountant
  • I make sales

Is that all that you do? Do you just work in a field?

If you’re anything like me, the answer to the question is a resounding NO.

There’s so much more to you than what you do during your day job.

For example, let’s look at what I do.

My day job is that of an IT professional. Simply put, I make sure the computers at my place of employment are up and running.

That might seem the end of it. It’s not.

We could put it into different terms. More descriptive. More vibrant. More ME or YOU.

Lets try it this way: I ensure the users in my company have a pleasant experience using technology to fulfill their roles. Proving excellent and quick service when technology goes down. And bringing new and exciting technologies to the company to improve.

But just like you, life doesn’t end when I clock out at the end of the day. There’s more facets to our lives.

We’re more like a body or a puzzle. Many pieces fitting together to create a whole.

You may:

  • be a creative
  • have a passion for youth
  • desire to promote others
  • love to put events together
  • speak and inspire others

Whatever it is, it is something that you DO.

So why are you giving a partial answer?

Instead, begin to craft a value statement. Your value statement will state the value you have to offer to the world.

Put together pieces of your professional life, your values, and your passions. You’ll be prepared to give an answer that will blow away the person who asked the question.

I’ll help you out and show you how I’ve created my value statement.

1. I created a list of activities that I do on a regular basis. Putting them into a list to review.

Here are the elements I chose:

  • I work in IT and give my users the tools they need to work.
  • I train and led students to become leaders in school, work, and society.
  • I search out the best tools to give people the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
  • I write and create new material to help young leaders grow their skills.

2. After creating a list of activities, I looked into common threads.

You will do the same. Look for areas that are similar or contain overlapping themes.

The areas that I seen overlap in were:

  • Providing
  • Guiding
  • Training
  • Leading

3. With this list, I formed an answer to the question. This was accomplished by looking at the overlapping areas and combing them with wording from my activities. Coming up with this statement:

I give young leaders the tools to thrive in a hectic world.

You will be able to come up with a killer value statement in the same way.

Get ready to blow the other networkers out of the water when you unleash your new answer.

You’ll get a different response. It won’t be the standard “Oh, that’s nice” or “Where do you do that at?”

Your value statement will create a standout memory in their minds. You’ll be remembered. And they’ll know who to call when they need the services you offer.

Question: The next time someone asks you “What do you do?” what will your answer be? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great thought Joe! Thanks for the reminder.

    • You’re welcome Michael. So “What do you do?”

      • I believe that if you are going to live and lead well, you must be thoughtful and purposeful about it. Therefore, “I help individuals and teams to grow personally and professionally through coaching leadership, writing, resources, and speaking.”

        My goal is to create insightful, relevant content that can be put to work immediately in one’s personal and professional life.

  • DS

    Joe I answer it by stating where I work, what my role is, and then insert what my passion is. After reading several thoughts from Michael Nichols, Michael Hyatt, and John Maxwell, it became apparent I should be able to clearly state “what I do.”

    If anyone reads your post, and hasn’t thought about this – make it a goal to accomplish in the very near future. Not only will it help you at events, but it will give you greater clarity in life.

    • That’s a great way to do it DS. You’re giving them a brief but thorough rundown of who you are.

  • Interesting idea! You make me want to come up with my own value statement. I’ve often wondered why people state their jobs or careers first when asked what we do. My job does not define me. There’s so many other facets of our lives that are worthy of bringing up about ourselves.

    • So create one Thomas! It will help bring clarity and give a better definition of who you are.

  • I am an ambassador of Christ, assigned to my current role of leading a corporate team who provide customer service to 330 locations across the nation.

  • I’m an author, speaker, coach, and consultant teaching people to not settle and chase their dreams.

    • From my interactions with you, I can see that is truly who you are. You’re an inspiration and motivator. Keep up the great work Kimanzi!

  • I have discovered that job descriptions can change in a flash – but who we are/passionate about doesn’t change as quite.

    Until recently i had my description down pat – trainer, coach, event’s organizer and a retail business owner.

    Then I moved countries.

    And out went the descriptions (because business shut down/no longer practicing and am starting everything from scratch)

    Who I am at my core hasn’t changed – I have a passion to help others live intentional lives/take control of their lives.

    My approach has had to change, even as I work up again. If all I had was a description (like I did many years back when I was manager in big city firm), I really would be crushed!

    Thanks for this reminder.

    • You’re welcome Ngina. Your story is a great reminder of why we cannot let our job or role define us. We’re much bigger than that.

  • Online MBA India

    Amazing blog you have here, I’ m sure this can attract lots of readers over the net for the cool write up. Keep it up

  • Jack Lynady

    Nice True read Joe.

    • Thanks Jack. Glad you enjoyed it. How would you describe what you do?

  • Most of the time I tell people my profession then my passion. I focus more time sharing about my passion for writing and leadership then I do on my profession. Great post.

    • Great breakdown Dan. How do people react when you go further than your profession?

      • After I give them my short elevator clip they want to hear more. Most people think it’s great I’m chasing after my passions and dreams while working, being a husband, and father(of a 7 month boy).

        • Awesome! Seems you’ve found a way to snag their attention.

  • Nice post, Joe. What we do is so much beyond a simple label or job description. I’m on vacation so I’ll not go into detail, but I’m a creative, writer, teacher, musician, and a loving provider.

    • Exactly Dan. We’ve been too narrow with our answers.

      Hope you’re having a terrific vacation! Doing anything fun or exciting?

      • Mostly outdoor adventures, camping, hiking, water. This week my daughter is taking boating lessons while I hang out in the beautiful and creative town of Port Townsend, WA. I’m journaling our adventures on my blog and will return to regular articles on July 16.

        • Sounds like you’ll be having a wonderful time! I’ve heard WA can be a beautiful state. Have fun and looking forward to your new content!

  • Thanks for this reminder and new way of looking at this important task, Joe. Being in a little flux right now, this is exactly what I needed!

    • Glad to give you something to chew on Nick. What did you get out of the message?

      • Not sure yet, other than I am going to take some time and meditate on this process and answer this question for myself!

        • Awesome! Hope you come up with some great stuff!

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