Those are probably the two most asked questions at business networking events. We have all been to cocktail parties,
networking events, or chatting online when we are asked one or both of those questions. It is
important to realize that for the benefit of our self esteem and self identity that we separate
those two questions. We ARE NOT what we do! We are (at least those who read my ezine); wonderful,
loving, caring, thoughtful, giving, helpful, smart, intelligent, human beings that make a difference
in the world around them! What you do - is your career, occupation, or profession.
Too many people identify themselves by their occupation and not by who they are - an individual with
unique and loving qualities. Too many people still identify the, "What do you do?" question by
outdated qualities that used to be true, but may not necessarily be accurate any longer.
We are going to look at 3 steps to refine and re-define your professional niche to more accurately
answer the, "What do you do?" question. This exercise should be done every few years to make sure
that your professional career identity is staying current with the changing times and your changing
1. Re-assess your talents and interests. Look for those items that you do the best, those things
that come easiest for you, those items that you seem to be doing the most frequently, and those
things that you get the most satisfaction from doing. Ask yourself, "What are your interests and
experiences?" It is very helpful to ask your family, friends, and colleagues for their feedback
too - BUT, just be willing to accept what they say as constructive input and don't take it as a
personal attack. It is so much more rewarding when your passion is also your vocation!
2. Know your market base - your audience. Do your homework; research to find out who needs your
product or services. Identify and understand their concerns. Your market base is not limited to
your current client base; think globally and don't forget about including colleagues, family,
friends, other businesses, and even your competitors as your global market base. This point can
change frequently with our fast-paced global economy. You need to re-assess this point and keep up
or you will get left along the wayside. Cutting-edge ideas and plans will keep your company fresh
and a leading source within your niche.
3. Create a mission statement. A mission statement is not only for Fortune 500 companies - it is a
useful tool for every business, no matter the size. A mission statement defines your purpose and
goals as a company (even if you are a single-proprietor). There are many free examples of mission
statements available on the Web. Here are 4 points to keep in mind as you develop a mission
statement of your own: Identify your short-term and long-term goals, describe your ideal customer,
focus on clarity and simplicity, and seek feedback. Your mission statement is only useful if it can
be understood by those who read it and will be financially rewarding if you follow what you have
written - in other words, practice what you preach!
As this exercise shows, it's important to include some of your personal interests and experiences
into your business; but make sure that your personal identity is separate from your business
identity. Follow this exercise and watch your business grow.