How to get leads when you meet people without being salesy

Recently, someone asked me for the short version of how I get clients.

“I make lots of friends, and some of those friends want to do business with me.” I said.

They followed up with “Okay, so how do you know which friends want to do business with you? And how long does it take you to figure that out?”

“I usually know if someone want to talk business within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.” I answered.

“How does that work?!” they replied.

This article will explain one way I’ve learned to prospect organically and without giving off a pushy salesperson vibe.

The question I’ve learned how to answer better than you.

There’s a question I’ve learned to answer better than you. Just about every friend of yours have asked this question, and you’ve answered it WRONGLY.

“What do you do for a living?”

I have a love-hate relationship with this question. Yet, it’s the question that will work wonders in your business, if you learn to answer it correctly.

On one hand, I don’t like this question because people ask it when they’re trying to size someone up. Some people categorize and treat others according to what they do for a living. It’s a sad but nevertheless true.


On the other hand, I really like this question because it creates the perfect opportunity for you to prospect. The question gives you a chance to create an association of you and your niche in someone else’s mind. How specific and confident you are when answering goes a long way–even if the person isn’t a prospect.

Let me explain why.

How we humans process information

When we receive information, our brains are wired to try and understand the information as quickly as possible.

We first try to understand the new information by finding ways to relate to it. We dig into our memory bank of people, experiences, and knowledge to try and grasp the information we’re receiving.

If a person is still unable to understand the information (or if their inquisitive enough), they’ll ask questions for clarification.

Think about that for a minute.

The answer you give to someone who asks about what you do for a living, influences the people, experiences, and knowledge they think about.

When you give a general answer, people think in general terms. But when you give a clear specific answer, you’ll make people think of specific people, specific experiences, and specific knowledge.

And that’s powerful, my friend.

If you’ve put in the work to craft the perfect sentence that states your niche clearly, then your answer is a no brainer. Chances are that if you haven’t spent time on that, you’re giving the wrong answer.

(You can learn about crafting a sentence that explains your niche by reading the “niche” section in this guide)

Once you begin to answer this question correctly, you’ll identify new prospects right off the bat and gather leads too.

The key is to pay attention to how your someone reacts after you’ve answered their question.

Let’s review a couple of common reactions you should be looking for.

When someone is mentioned in relation to your niche

If your new friend isn’t a prospect, they might think of someone who is. This is their attempt to relate to your answer and let you know they understand your niche.

They’ll say something like:

“Oh, I have a friend who works doing x”  or “My sister owns an x type of business”.

Make a mental note on who they mention and stalk them later online (kidding about stalking them, or am I?).

But seriously, if you get good vibes from this person, then ask for an introduction. Your new friend will have no problem introducing you to someone if they perceive you as an expert in what you do–especially if they see you as a helper and not a drainer.

Again, the confidence in which you state your niche makes all the difference. People have perceived you accordingly. So, spend time really crafting the right answer.

Yes, first impressions form a long-lasting perception and opinion of who you are in the minds of others.

When questions are asked

Your new friend will ask questions if they’re unclear about your niche. This does two things for you:

  1. It tells you that your new friend is not a prospect.
  2. It creates an opportunity for you to fish for leads.

If someone is unfamiliar with your niche, then ask questions to help them dig for information to understand. Be strategic about it, though.

Ask questions in a way that helps you identify if they know someone who fits your ideal client or is in a related industry.

For example, let’s say you’re a Social Media Strategist and your niche is “making people look good online.”

When someone asks questions to grasp your niche further, you could ask a question like:

“Do you have any friends who freelance or work for themselves?”

If they answer yes, then ask “What does this friend exactly do?”

After they’ve explained who their friend is, tell them what you could help their friend accomplish.

Don’t tell them how you would help. You’ll bore them with details–especially if they’re not a prospect.

Explaining what you could help their friend accomplish solidly positions you in the mind of your new connection. Anytime they think of their friend, someone like them, or your niche, they’ll think of you.

Again, that’s powerful, my friend.

Imagine if you accurately positioned yourself in the mind of every person who’s asked about what you do for living. You’re bound to get leads and new clients. Of course, assuming you’re friendly and likable.

When someone is familiar with your niche, ask questions about how they know about your niche. You may have stumbled into a prospect or someone who’s connected to one.

If they like you enough, you might just get an easy referral.

Sometimes, nothing happens. That’s okay.

Some new acquaintances won’t ask a single question. They won’t even try to understand you or your niche. And that’s okay.

You most likely weren’t introduced for that reason, anyway. Just be friends.

But as you two get to know each other, you’re bound to learn about each other’s careers. It’s just a natural thing people do.

You don’t make new friends for the sole purpose of doing business with them. It just happens that some of your friends want and even need to do business with you (or know someone else who does).

Stop giving the wrong answer to “What do you do for a living?”. Start answering the question with correctly and with precision.

This is one way you can prospect effectively without sacrificing your introversion.

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