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2011-05-20 19:38:01

Three Mistakes to Watch Out for When Asked, "So What Do You Do?"

OK, so you’re standing in line in the supermarket, or in an elevator, at a party, or in a networking group. Sooner or later, someone is going to say to you, “So what do you do?” This is what you want, free publicity, so to speak. However, how you handle this question could determine whether this person becomes a prospective client, a prospective referral source or just walks away.

This article exposes three mistakes you could be making when answering “So, what do you do?” and why they don’t work. The article will also provide the ideal answer and explain why it’s magical.

Mistake #1: You say too little.

You say something like, “My name is Jane Doe and I’m with _________________ Real Estate Company.” And then you smile, hoping the other person will ask you a question. They probably won’t. This is a mistake because you have made a short statement that doesn’t engage the other person. It doesn’t invite questioning. The other person may politely say what they do to fill the awkward silence or they may excuse themselves in a socially graceful way.

Mistake #2: You say too much and ask for the business

You say something like, “My name is Jane Doe. I work for ______________________ Real Estate Company and I specialize in country homes. I love the country and I love to show country property. It feels so good to get outdoors, breathe the fresh air and help someone find a home they love in the country. So who do you know who is seeking to buy or sell a country home?”

This is a mistake because you said too much about yourself, did not ask a question that would engage the other person and it’s too early to ask for the business. You should be cultivating a relationship with that person. Remember, people do business with you when they know, like and trust you. With someone you just met, you’re still in the “getting to know each other” stage. The most you should ask for is their business card and give them yours. If you have a connection with that person and would like to contact them in the future, you might consider adding them to your Sphere of Influence and sending them an Item of Value once a month.

Mistake #3: You talk on and on about yourself and your career

I know this may sound hard to believe but you’d be amazed at the things people say when they are nervous and trying to make small talk. Someone says, “So what do you do?” and you answer, “My name is Jane Doe and I’m with __________________ Real Estate Company. I have been with them for five years. It’s a great company. All the people there are so friendly and helpful. I am so glad I chose real estate. I love the flexible hours and the income potential. This really beats my corporate job and …”

This is a mistake because it’s “all about you.” The only things you’re promoting here are (1) the nice atmosphere of your office and (2) that real estate is a great career. If you keep going you might talk the other person into becoming a real estate agent, but they won’t be a prospective client or referral source.

So, what should you say?

With over 14 years of coaching real estate agents to double their incomes, I have found one amazing answer that does wonders… and I’m about to let you in on that secret.

Here’s the scoop. When someone asks what you do, you need to ask them a question to engage them. The question is, "Well, you know how nervous and stressed out people can get when they are buying or selling a home?” Pause and let the other person respond with a “yes.” Then you say, “Well, I take care of all the details and paper work; I hold their hand through the process and make the whole thing a relaxing, enjoyable experience for my client. I’m a real estate agent with ________________company.”

Now, what do you think you’d feel or think if you heard that response? Most likely you’d want to do business with that person. Why? There are three reasons:

  1. They didn’t talk about themselves.
  2. They showed that they have a thorough understanding of the issues and problems people face when buying or selling a home.
  3. They provided specific solutions to the client’s problems.

When you give this kind of answer there are a lot of benefits. The other person will be genuinely interested because you’ve engaged them. The other person will begin to trust you because you put the client’s needs before your own. Finally, you answered in a unique way that sets you apart from the crowd. So the next time that person has a real estate question they are going to call you because you have demonstrated that you care.

With those benefits, wouldn’t you want to use this answer, memorize every word and have it roll off your tongue the next time someone says, “So what do you do?”  You bet you would. Just watch your income increase.


Dr. Maya Bailey, Multiple 6 Figure Income Business Coach for Real Estate Professionals, integrates her 20 years of experience as a psychologist with 14 years of expertise in marketing. Her powerful transformational work creates a Success Formula for Real Estate Professionals ready to create a Multiple 6 Figure Income. To get your free report: “7 Simple Strategies to More Clients in 90 Days” and to apply for an Initial Complimentary Consultation, go to

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