5 Words We All Dread: “And What Do You Do?”

personal branding handshake business card introduction reputation managementIf you’ve followed the advice of my last blog, you’ve got your business card up to scratch and it’s giving all the clues about your personal brand your audience needs to ‘get’ who you are.  Congratulations!

And if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll have read my previous post about reinforcing those messages with the handshake you give as you hand your card over. Now you’re on a roll!

But that was the easy bit…

No matter who I’ve worked with – from CEOs, MDs and FDs of large companies, to entrepreneur business people who run their own show – I’ve yet to come across anyone who relishes the next step: being asked, “And what do you do?”

Some tell me it’s because they do so many different things they can’t quite put it in words so just end up saying, “Oh, you know, this and that.”  Hmm, this and that eh? Hardly scintillating conversation, is it? 

Some say they feel embarrassed that they don’t do something glamorous or interesting (not something Lady Gaga struggles with I’d hazard a guess).  “Me, oh I’m just a boring accountant.”  Well, as I’ve posted before, tell me you’re boring and I’ll think you’re boring – which begs the question why I’d want to speak to you. 

And some tell me the reason they hate being asked, “And what do you do?” is that they think saying their job title – “I’m a Chief Executive” – makes them sound big-headed, as if they’re bragging that they’re the big cheese.  

Any of those describe how you feel? 

Instead of seeing the question as something to be dreaded, why not see it as an opportunity to promote your personal brand; to do something to blow your own trumpet and stand out from the crowd so the person you’re talking to wants to know more?

All it takes is a little time to think about what you’re going to say, and I’ll be showing you how to do that in my next blog. So stay tuned folks!


If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

4 Responses to “5 Words We All Dread: “And What Do You Do?””

  1. I so relate to this – how do you really convey what we do in one sentence?! Invariably our focus is always on the discomfort we feel in trying to communicate what we do, or perhaps on what the other person is thinking about us and what we do. My focus is often not on the end result of what I want to achieve – and that is an open and engaging conversation about what I do – communicated with authenticity and interest….I await with baited breath for your next installment! I’d also like to hear how women can blow their own trumpet a little bit more than we currently do – men seem to be much better at doing this….


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