Financial advisors often find themselves in an awkward situation. They chat with someone. Everything is going great until they ask: “What do you do?” In some cases, you cannot get the words “financial advisor” out before they have started to say: “I already have one.” Many people often get uneasy when you tell them you are a financial advisor. They assume you want to sell them something. What can you do?

Let us consider eight potential examples:

1. Title and firm. “I am a financial advisor with XYZ Investments.” It is straightforward. It doesn’t try to be cute. You are stating the obvious. It sounds basic, yet a lot of experienced advisors use this approach. They are proud of what they do.

2. Downplaying. This can be tricky. If they might get scared away, try to redirect the conversation to get them talking: “I am a financial advisor, but it’s your job I find fascinating. How did you become an astronaut?” You answered the question but made them the center of attention.

3. Redirect to your spouse. Years ago, someone explained in certain situations, women can be invisible. Men might be asked what they do, but it might be assumed women either stayed home or had low level jobs. This husband had a great answer: “What do I do? I run the local hardware store. You should really ask my spouse that question. She is the one in the family with the really interesting job.” Now the spouse, who is an advisor, is on stage.

4. Focus on the volunteer organization. You met this person at a museum reception. Someone asked, “What do you do?” You answered in the context of the volunteer organization. “I am the membership chair here at the museum.” You learn about them. They might have an interest in joining or donating. During a lull in the conversation, you can say: “In my day job, I am a financial advisor with XYZ Securities.”

5. Need as the example. I met an accountant who had a great response concerning what he does: “Did you ever get one of those registered letters from the IRS? We take care of those types of problems.” He makes a statement getting an emotional responses, then indicates he is part of the solution.

6. Conditional upon audience. We often make assumptions about the people we meet. When you come across someone aged 80+, it is unlikely you are going to say: “I specialize in naked option strategies.” You might talk about capital preservation for the next generation. If the person is in their 20’s, the conversation might involve growth strategies. You are different things to different people, depending on their needs.

7. Sleep soundly. You have heard this one before. “I help wealthy people sleep at night. In this example, the vague answer is meant to get the other person to say: “Tell me more.”

8. The use of keywords. Certain words have considerable depth of meaning. Consider the following 21 words: “I am an officer with XYZ Securities. I work with a small group of business owners and families in Hudson County.” Now, let us look at the meaning below the surface:

• Officer. If you are a vice president, that is an officer title. Banks have officers. People are raised to respect police and military officers. It’s a title of respect.

• Small. Small equals exclusive.

• Business owners. Most people know the wealth in the community is in the hands of established business owners. Business owners have many needs. You must do a lot to hold their interest.

• Families. Many businesses are family owned. Family also speaks to family values.

• In (local area). Leaders in the community are often cheerleaders for the local economy. You are saying you and your clients live around here. Money you earn in fees in recycled back into the local community when you go shopping.

There are many ways you can respond to “What do you do” without scaring them away.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.