When a prospect asks, “So, what do you do?” the next 30 seconds can change your future. Studies show that’s the maximum time you have to make a good first impression. And sometimes, it’s only 7 seconds.

Here are three areas to focus on when describing your unique value, as suggested by Financial Planning columnist John J. Bowen Jr.

1. Who you serve — and how they benefit: Instead of rattling off a plain-vanilla title, like “financial advisor,” or “senior vice president,” describe how you solve a real challenge for your clients.

2. How you work: You’ll know that part one of your “value promise” is on point if, after you say it, the person asks, “How do you do that?” That’s when you briefly summarize your approach to managing clients’ wealth.

3. Call to action: You’re about 20 second in at this point, and if they’re engaged, the next question will be along the lines of: “How do I find out more?”

Here is where you reply with a specific step you want the person to take next.

Creating a truly compelling value promise isn’t easy. Keep it brief and make it about the listener. And practice it in front of your family, friends and associates.