Most people stumble when asked the simple question: what do you do? We have a tendency to believe that we are what we do, and maybe even some of us are still trying to find our purpose in life. Or we identify with labels of "wife, mother, daughter business owner, chef, chauffeur, financial planner" … on and on. We are confusing ourselves that what we do is not who we are.
Depending on where we are and the purpose of such an innocent question, it is helpful to have a few short "prepared" blurbs that are clever, intriguing and succinct. A sense of humor helps to show your personality, but it may be more appropriate when trying to impress a possible mate rather than attracting a potential business client. In both cases, you want to give enough information to make the other person want to know more about you. As much as we might like to avoid marketing, it is part of everyday life. The elevator speech is basically our introduction, modified for any situation we find ourselves in.
We need to prepare it, and then memorize it. The more we practice our blurb, the more natural sounding it will be when the time comes. There are multiple opportunities for networking but usually when someone asks what you do, the first thing that pops out is your occupation. Given this label to work with, the person then typically stereotypes you into a narrow box. If you give them just enough to pique their interest in an interesting way, they just might stick around to see how you can help them with their particular needs.
It may sound stilted at first … you may even stutter and stammer. But as you get better at it, you may expand your circle of potentials exponentially. It's not necessarily easy though. I assigned it to my mastermind group recently and we have been struggling with succinctness and relevance. We also found it hard to describe ourselves objectively. We decided to write one for each other as well as ourselves to expand upon our limited possibilities. Hopefully, we can then integrate what feels right and go from there. I think it is all about making it simple, short, playful and memorable.
Think about what you would say if someone asked: what do you do? Is what you do what your life is about? If you have any desire to do this process, think about getting others to tell you what they find most interesting and intriguing about you. It will probably open up your eyes as to how you are perceived!