The Haiku of What You Do

I’m a fan of Haiku, and have been doing an exercise based upon it for several years now at conferences and law firm retreats.  Instead of the 5-7-5 syllable format, I ask my audiences to answer three questions, using just five words for the first question, seven for the second and five again for the third.

Though I’ll use different questions depending upon the event, I recently spoke to the New York City Bar about in-person networking and gave these three questions as a way to quickly develop an “elevator speech” that responds to the “What do you do?” question we get all the time.

The three questions, which must be answered with the specified number of words, are:

  • Who do I help? (Answer in Five Words)
  • What do I do for them? (Answer in Seven Words)
  • Why do they need me? (Answer in Five Words)

An example response to these questions from a business lawyer could be:

I help small business owners

incorporate their businesses and protect their assets

so they can sleep better.

Another example for a personal injury lawyer may be:

I help injured accident victims

understand their rights and recover medical expenses

from people who are responsible.

Give it a try.  It isn’t an easy exercise, but it will help you answer that all-to-common networking question with something other than, “I’m a lawyer.”


Update: Thanks to Gina Roers for the new title for the post.

5 Responses to The Haiku of What You Do
  1. AndreaPHowe
    April 14, 2011 | 11:48 am

    I love this, Matt! It’s simple, elegant, creative, and perfectly timed as we have a meeting tomorrow to roll up our sleeves and revisit our short statement of what we do. As “homework” we’re all going to bring our haikus to the call. Thanks for the insight and the great idea!

  2. AndreaPHowe
    April 15, 2011 | 7:34 am

    I just finished my haiku homework for our team meeting later today. REALLY interesting and useful. Also REALLY hard to stick to 5-7-5 – and doing just that led to a light-bulb moment.

    Here’s mine:

    I help leaders, salespeople, consultants
    walk the talk of a Trusted Advisor
    so all their relationships prosper.

    Thanks again, Matt.

  3. Donna Neff
    June 22, 2011 | 1:56 pm

    Inspiring! Here’s mine: I help individuals and families … Develop, implement, and administer comprehensive estate plans … Giving everyone peace of mind.

  4. Rich DeLuca
    July 15, 2011 | 3:52 pm

    Great post – I am going to include it in my tips for creating your personal brand. Here’s mine:

    I teach marketing challenged attorneys… easy ways to engage their client base… so their practice can grow

  5. Kathryn Dumke
    September 14, 2011 | 11:41 pm

    peoples bad kharma
    solved by sword or conversation
    needs skilled attention

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