At networking events, I most often introduce myself as ‘a writer’ or ‘a business writer.’ Both lead to one of two inevitable questions: ‘What do you write?’, or ‘What kind of writing do you do?’
Then I take a deep breath and try to explain myself in 30 seconds or less, (even typing this, I took a deep breath.) I’m interested and have experience in a lot of different types of writing. For my business, I can write marketing collateral – and that in itself can be an arm-long list of different things from success stories to business profiles to solution profiles and product briefs.
Then there’s ghost blogging for businesses, web content, press releases, content for newsletters, interviews, process guides, and more.
I’ve found that my business card is a great ice breaker, however. My business tagline is “Your words, only better.” And I constantly get a lot of compliments on that phrase. Business folks who are intimidated by writers, especially, smile at that and visibly relax. That’s when they’ll share a bit about their insecurities or concerns with their own writing.
I’m also realizing that if I can find out what type of business the person I’m meeting is involved with before I answer, I can give examples that he or she can relate to.
- For instance, many businesses have websites that have existed for 5 years or more and never been updated – I can talk about my web copy experience.
- Or if the person mentions sales letters that have resulted in zero inquiries, I can talk about how I can write marketing and sales pieces that catch attention.
- Social media scares a lot of business owners – they don’t know how to even approach LinkedIn or Twitter for business. If I know this is what they’re thinking about the most, I can talk about how each has a different goal and therefore the writing has to also be different. I can mention that it isn’t rocket science, but it is a skill, and I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years.
Empathy goes a long way, and I love it when someone gets inquisitive about the art of writing. For me, asking questions about their business is natural – I need to know more in order to be able to write for them and keep their ‘voice.’
It’s probably not best to reply to ‘what do you write’ with ‘whatever you need,’ but in most cases, it’s true. I love working with words and helping others express what they need to in their own words, only better.
How do you answer the question, ‘what type of writing do you do?’
Lisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.