What do you do? How to answer for business networking success
Written by Jo BryantThe English Manner, The UK’s Leading Etiquette and Protocol Training Institute 310 310
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Described by The Telegraph as ‘the empress of etiquette’, Jo joined The English Manner in 2019 from Debrett’s, where she spent over a decade as a tutor and the editor of more than fifteen acclaimed books on etiquette and modern manners.Connect with Jo Bryant on LinkedIn Follow Jo Bryant on Instagram
25 September 2023
“What do you do?” It’s a simple enough question, and one heard so often during business networking, but one that can be the hardest to answer.
Moreover, if you are at a networking event, it is also one of the most important things you will say. Preparing, fine-tuning and practising your response is a key ingredient for networking success and a fundamental element of professional personal branding.
You may understand the hierarchies, divisions and departments in your workplace, and recognise the crucial difference that those all-important little words make – for example, ‘assistant’, ‘vice’, ‘co’, ‘regional’ – but the chances are that others won’t.
Avoid rattling off your ‘official’ title if it means nothing to those outside your professional field or company.
Try simplifying and clarifying your job title, and you will instantly identify your areas of expertise and make what you do easily understood by others.
You can quickly give others an idea of what day-to-day working life might look like for you and, most importantly for networking, whether you are relevant to them and their business.
Don’t say, “I’m the Co-Assistant Deputy Marketing Executive for Strategy, Brand Partnerships and Development at The English Manner”; instead, say, “I work in marketing for The English Manner”.
Much clearer, isn’t it?
There is no need, however, to cut yourself short and underplay your role. This is something we advise people of during our Business Protocol Masterclass.
You can add a little strap-line or explainer, too, for example: “I work in marketing for The English Manner. I focus on brand partnerships and general strategy for the business”. This opens up conversation and allows relevant questions.
You will actively engage with the other person rather than dazzling (and boring them) with impenetrable internal business lingo.
Networking events are all about conversations, so clear, accessible, conversational language is key for creating the best exchanges.
Knowing how to explain who you are and what you do in a simple and relatable language, clearly and confidently, is a key step for networking success and essential for building a great professional reputation.