“Tell me about yourself. What do you do, anyway?”
“Did you hit the lottery or something?”
“No, wait! I got it! You’re a trust fund kid.”
“No? Did you rob a bank?”
“Okay, I give up. Just tell me.”
That’s often the way the conversation starts when fellow travelers hear Joann and I live in our Airstream full-time. Especially when we leave our home base and head out on the road for weeks or longer.
I can’t blame them. The median age at the campgrounds we visit is probably 62. If you aren’t a contractor, retired, or on vacation, how could you earn a living on the road?
And how do you get your mail? The answer to that question is for another post…
“What do you do?” is always the next question to follow after we assure them that we are in no way rich. In my corporate jobs of 14 years, I always had a clear answer.
But being asked what I do now is harder to answer. I’m sure it’s tough for any freelancer, entrepreneur, or business owner.
Not Talking About Yourself Will Hold Your Business Back
For a while, I just said “Web Design” when asked what I do. It was a clear answer, yet a black box to most people. They often don’t want to ask more questions because they think they won’t understand the answers anyway.
They quickly understood how web design could be done on the road. But it was a lazy answer. And it didn’t help me grow our business at all.
For a couple of years, Joann simply said she did “Document Control” because she was still working part-time for her employer in Boston.
But Joann was working on other things. Again, it was an easy answer. And it did nothing to grow her other ventures.
In time, we learned that it was important to tell people what we do. And keep talking. No, I’m not advocating that you take over the conversation and talk about yourself incessantly.
Master Talking About What You Do
Here are three ways you need to kill it when you talk about yourself:
1. Give a Clear, Descriptive Answer
Okay, so the person standing in front of you just said, “Tell me about yourself.” They want to know about you. Honestly, it’s a little disrespectful to give them a lame answer you try to excuse with a false sense of humility.
Something about you piqued their interest. Whatever you say should be interesting. You owe them that much. You’ll likely need to prepare in advance to pull that off.
2. Pitch Yourself Without Pitching Yourself
You could just answer with a title. But that will only get you a “That’s nice.” Or you could go into a sales spiel that will leave them running for the hills.
Here’s a hint: Don’t do either. Start with a problem you solve. Then say what you do to solve it. It’s a pitch without a pitch.
Those who want to know more will ask. Those that don’t simply won’t.
Here’s my answer went someone asks what I do:
“Well, many business owners feel like their websites, social media, and online ads are a waste of time and money. And they’re right. So, I help them create sites, posts, and ads that make them money.”
If it seems like they want to know more, I ask if they know someone like that.
No pressure. But if they are in need or know someone in need, they’ll likely speak up.
Watch this video from Donald Miller that expands on the concept.
3. Know When to Shut Up
This might be the most important part of talking about yourself. You need to become a pro at knowing the exact moment you need to shut up.
If your audience has lost interest, stop talking. And if you can tell they want to say something, be quiet. They might be aching to give you a reference or ask for your help.
Tell Your Friends and Family About Yourself
A few months ago, a relative asked us the same question. “What do you do?” And Joann and I realized that we haven’t even explained to our friends and family what we do.
Part of the reason is that we didn’t really know when we first moved into our travel trailer. And it’s still evolving.
But it woke us up to the fact that we need to tell our family and friends what we do too.
Here are three reasons why:
1. They Want to Know More About You
Most of your family members are curious about what you do. Why leave them just thinking “He Does Something With Computers”? Many want to know more about your day-to-day. Give ’em the scoop!
Tell them about your business website, Facebook page, Instagram account. Connect on Linkedin. Get them to follow you on Twitter. Even your Pinterest. Yes, I just shamelessly plugged all our social links. 😉
2. They Might Need Your Help
One of the hardest parts about getting a new customer is earning their trust or getting them to take a chance on you.
You probably don’t need to convince your family or friends that you’re being honest and that you mean it when you say you can help.
Don’t assume your family and friends will want something for nothing. I’ve found just the opposite to be true. Many want to pay your going rate or at least give you what they can for your help. You can choose whether you take it or not.
3. They Will Give You Referrals
This goes back to the trust factor. It takes a lot of trust to recommend someone. Most likely, your family is ready and willing to tell others about your products and services when they find someone in need of what you offer.
People love to know and offer solutions to a problem. Let your family and friends use your name and phone number to do it.
Here’s Where I Tell You About Us and What We Do
Heltzel Virtual is the name for our brand and encapsulates most of what we do for work. We also do some freelance work and use our personal names outside the business. We actually have an LLC set up with a different name altogether. But we don’t need to get into all that.
At Heltzel Virtual, we have two core areas of focus:
1. Digital Marketing
Heltzel Virtual started with web design. But along the way, we’ve moved more toward digital marketing. That started with my discovery that most business owners don’t know why they need a website in the first place.
By the way, the answer is to sell. Read more about that in our blog, Don’t Waste Your Dollars – Start a Website That Sells.
Web Design still plays an important part and is part of our digital marketing offering. I’m still developing skills to offer clients more flexibility.
I have an app idea that I hope to build before someone beats me to it and JS will help.
Search Engine Optimization
To get more traffic, you need content that ranks high on Google. If you have a business, you’ve likely gotten those robocalls that start out, “RANK #1 ON GOOGLE.” If you get those calls, hang up.
The best way to rank #1 on Google is with rich content. And those robots don’t know the first thing about good content.
But it’s more than that. SEO is strongly linked to the user experience. Google won’t rank a site high if visitors don’t like it. So I help businesses craft SEO-friendly sites that users want to visit and want to hang around.
Social Media Management
This sounds just like what it is. Business owners (and even their employees) don’t have time to run their social media accounts and post valuable content.
Especially when you should probably post on Facebook 1-2x/day, Instagram 1-2x/day, LinkedIn 1x/business day, Pinterest 5-30x/day, and Twitter 5-10x/day.
But you also have to be social. To get the payoff on social media, you have to like posts, comment on posts, reply to messages. Now you understand why most professionals don’t have the time for that. So they pay us to run their accounts for them.
We can help them design a strategy, stay consistent, and get their brand noticed.
Freelance writing, proofreading, and editing have been an offering since 2016. But last year, we decided that in order to build better websites, we needed to write more copy. We’ll write everything from blogs to case studies to ads.
It’s important to have websites and landing pages that generate leads and convert visitors into paying customers. And some clients do like to write messages in their own voice. We help tweak that content so it resonates AND shows up in search.
2. Virtual Assistant Services
Many who hear “virtual assistant” don’t know what that could be. “You mean, like Siri?” No, that’s a digital assistant. A virtual assistant is basically an administrative or executive assistant that works remotely.
Many are freelancers and consultants who may work for an agency. But companies have warmed up the idea and some employee positions exist too. Mostly startups.
This is Joann’s game. She offers a number of services. Some aren’t too technical and include the kind of work you’d give a brick-and-mortar business’s administrative assistant. This includes tasks like data entry and validation and calendar management.
Some jobs get more in-depth like technical research, social media strategy, and website updates. Her blog How Can a Virtual Assistant Help Your Business and Keep Your Clients Happy? says more about that.
Tell Us About Yourself
Now you know how we do it.
We’d love to hear from you. What do you do?
Learning what to say when people ask “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself” should be part of your marketing strategy.
Practice your pitch without a pitch in the comments!
Need help? Call Heltzel Virtual at (352) 477-1877 for your free consult.