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  • How to Translate What You Do Into What’s In It For Others

    Ever feel like you’re speaking a completely different language when you’re relaying your branding message or elevator pitch to others? Even when you deliver it coherently without stumbling over your words, something seems to be lost in the translation because people just aren’t “getting it?”

    What’s often lost in the translation, what others aren’t understanding is, “What’s in this for me?”

    What’s in it for me?


    Defining your brand and differentiating yourself are important, but at the end of the day, people won’t buy from you or hire you unless they understand how they will benefit. And while you can make the translation easily and automatically in your own head because you’re so familiar with your work, it’s a shift that’s not so easy to make for someone hearing it for the first time (or even the second or the third).

    So no matter how enthusiastically and cleverly you are broadcasting, “Here’s who I am and what I do, shouldn’t everyone want this?” potential clients, hiring managers, and networking contacts are waiting to hear, How can this help me or someone I know?”

    Speed up the understanding

    How do you relay your brand message so that others see the value more clearly? Here are four ideas that can speed the absorption of your message:

    Focus less on what you do and more on what your target market gets. How specifically will their life or business change once you’re in the picture? Will they make more money, decrease risk, save time or hassle? For example, don’t just say, “I’m a financial analyst” but instead say, “I help companies make more money with their investments.”

    Go into more detail using examples. Since a good percentage of the population is visual, sometimes telling a story can illustrate the benefit much more clearly. You can describe a problem that you faced and the result that was gained. For example, “The company was spending money in marketing that wasn’t bringing them any customers. I worked with them to invest in programs that brought in new customers and eventually tripled their revenues.

    2335290975_da4890160bTie it into their specific situation. You can make a stronger impact with your message by linking it to a pain or problem the other person is already familiar with. Before you answer the “What do you do question” say, “Well, there are a number of ways I help depending on the situation, so I’ll give you an example. What industry are you in?” Then go right into a story or even an analogy they’re more likely to relate to.

    Make more information readily available. When you have a great connection with someone at a networking event or even across the Twitterverse, being able to refer them to your blog with articles you’ve written and case studies that describe some of your work can help them solidify their understanding over time and at their own pace. This takes the pressure off of that initial interaction to keep talking about what you do until they get it, giving you more time to focus on getting to know them better and building a rapport which is so much more important.

    It’s not enough to be passionate about your personal brand. You have to get others to be passionate about it too. Supplement your tag line, branding message, and elevator pitch with elements that touch people closer to home and your transmission will be more readily received.


    Liz Lynch is founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2008). She writes, speaks and consults to experienced professionals on how to seamlessly integrate social media and traditional networking to save time and accelerate results.


    Liz is author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and a sought-after speaker who brings a practical and insightful perspective to networking that has connected with a global audience. Her printed and audio products have sold on six continents, she’s been invited to speak at conferences and organizations around the world, and her writings have been translated into multiple languages. Liz is also founder of the Center for Networking Excellence, a company that develops products, programs and seminars to help entrepreneurs and professionals get clients, build their businesses, and accelerate their careers through networking.

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    Posted in Brand Yourself As, Networking, Personal Branding, Positioning
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    8 comments on “How to Translate What You Do Into What’s In It For Others
    1. avatar

      Great tips. I’m currently tweaking our web page’s copy with a focus on our brand and how we help others and these tips will come in handy. Especially like “Focus less on what you do and more on what your target market gets”, telling people what they’ll receive as a benefit seems to be a much more effective sales pitch than telling them what you do.

    2. avatar

      I’ve been struggling with this myself. I feel like occasionally I slip into Mandarin Chinese during a meeting with a client. The things that come second nature to me don’t always resonate with the client, I need to put it into their language for them to grasp just how much it could help their businesses.

      • avatar
        Dan Schawbel says:

        Stuart, great response to this post. I think doing a lot of research before you go on a client call is the right way to go about this.

    3. avatar
      Greg says:

      You always have to see things from their point of view. And that is something that is really difficult for some people to do because it takes slowing down and thinking outside of their environment. It is also about selling yourself which some people struggle with due to issues relating to self confidence. If you aren’t confident in who you are and what you can do then you aren’t going to be able to convince someone else of those things.

    4. avatar

      I’ve often counseled saying “people don’t give a hoot about what YOU want or what YOU’ve done or where YOUu’ve been unless it relates DIRECTLY to them. That is to (also) say that people hire for purely selfish reasons: ” What are you (candidate) going to do for ME and MY quality of life?”

      I often see objectives on resumes that read something like this:

      Looking for a growth opportunity in a growth organization that will utllize my skills and abilities…” or some form of the same. WHO CARES?! If you left that off objective the resume is it then implied that your interested possible in a “non-growth situation and organization that has no use for your skills and abilities…”? Consequently, you’ve said nothing.

      Clearly, an objective opening statement on the phone or in a letter of introduction can set down the foundation for what it is you can do FOR THEM; and better ensure you capture their interest. Do your research. Find out what’s on THEIR plate and direct your objective and subsequently your “elevator speech” et al to matters that matter. People hire for purely selfish reasons! … and it’s a good thing they do. If it’s for reasons that are good for them and they are in a hiring position, they are reasons that are likely also good for the organization, right? I mean who would want to work for an organization that hires the wrong people?

      Just some thoughts…Hope they helps

    5. avatar

      Great, great tips. This is often the biggest challenge for individuals and businesses — understanding what your audience/prospect needs/wants and what they perceive as value — super tips to get started in doing it right 🙂

      Maria Reyes-McDavis

      • avatar
        Dan Schawbel says:

        Maria, thanks for the comment. If you have a contact within that company, it’s easier to find out. It get’s more challenging if that information isn’t revealed on the web too.

    6. avatar
      @JoshHurlock says:

      Thanks for the post Liz and Dan. The key is to get to know the client and not go into the business relationship blindfolded. Simplify how you normally talk so that anyone can understand (ex. medical field), be authentic (be yourself) and provide great value.

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