When people ask you questions about yourself, do you resort to generic answers?

If so, it may be time to rethink your approach. So often we don’t even notice the opportunities tucked inside our conversations with others—from the simplest “How are you?” to the more complex questions you’re asked throughout the day.

How often do you take time to answer them in a powerful way? And how about the most critical question—the one that can open doors to a world of opportunity—“What do you do?”

I have heard even the most seasoned professionals use the standard black-and-white description of their businesses. (For example, “I am a financial advisor.”)

Although this answer concisely states exactly what you do, it also opens the door for all types of stereotypes and preconceived notions to flood in.

Many prospects may toss you into the broad category of “salesperson” and immediately forget about you. In giving this answer, you are leaving an awful lot to hope, as in “I sure hope she knows what a financial advisor does.”

Talking about yourself and your products in detail, however, can come across as sales-y, boastful or meaningless. (For example, if you tell someone you hold the CFA designation, will he know what that means?)

Instead, try using a phrase that I’ve heard some top advisors use. Follow the generic answer with a connector statement that gives you the right to talk about your expertise or the benefits of your services. (For example, “I hold the CFA designation. And let me tell you why I think that may be important to you.”)

This turns a generic statement about what you do into a detailed description of your business as it pertains to the individual with whom you’re talking.

It’s your opportunity to put preconceived notions to rest and communicate your unique statement of value—without being sales-y.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com