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Gail Gibson

Why Do You Do What You Do?

For those of you who network to market your business, you will have been asked this question many times over: ‘What do you do?’

For many people this is the typical way to break the ice and get to know someone, to find out about their product or services.

But what does this question actually tell you? It informs you about what an individual or business does such as an accountant offering payroll, end of year accounts and self assessment. These ‘what’ criteria are the features of the business, the activities.

So how can you delve deeper into finding out more than what someone does?

Reframe the way you ask the question. When you reframe, you give yourself an opportunity to see or think differently, you open up a new perspective. From this new perspective you can broaden the opportunity. 

Instead of asking ‘What do you do?’ ask ‘Why do you do what you do?

Asking ‘why’ can lead an individual to consider more about the purpose behind his/her business. Your newly posed question encourages a deeper response, in effect so you can discover what makes the person and their business ‘tick; to find out their belief in why they do what they do. Knowing the purpose or ‘why’ of a person or business allows you to develop a better impression of how they may be able to help you or someone else you know.

‘Why’ offers you a chance to ‘buy into’ an idea.

An example of this can be the accountant mentioned earlier. When asked ‘why’ an accountant may respond with, “I love working with numbers and data and get a buzz out being able to help make a difference to save businesses on their tax.”

Think about how different the accountant’s reply is compared to their response to a ‘what’ question. The ‘why’ response indicates the accountant’s passion for his chosen field of work and his belief about ‘making a difference’.

These create a positive first impression which helps you ‘buy into’ the accountant as an individual.

So, next time you are networking, why not change your tact and ask ‘Why’ instead of ‘What’.


*Gail Gibson is a coach, trainer, speaker and author of ‘Making Connections’. For more from Gail, log on to