In a noisy world where personal branding is a professional imperative, and where we constantly compete with equally qualified rivals for clients, jobs, promotions, assignments or funding, being just a little more interesting and memorable can be the deciding factor in our favor.
The following list of six rules should yield some promising results for those who want to up their game with some new skills and behaviors to become a more distinguished individual:
1.Learn to make a solid business case. Occasionally we get lucky. We ask for something- resources, money, time, support- and we get it. But for the most part, the higher the stakes, the more scrutiny our requests are under. Entrepreneurs, managers and executives who cannot make a solid business case, linking needs to strategic goals, detailing risks, opportunities and projected ROI, based on research and analysis, are discounted by the decision-makers who can green-light a project. By clearly showing value, telling a compelling business story and answering tough questions from stakeholders, we become valued players in a serious game
2. Master conversational skills. The ability to converse is a key competency for successful client pitches, board room presentations, management meetings and the myriad hallway conversations that influence major business decisions- it also makes you a lot more approachable. Skillful small talk and more substantive conversations can make anyone more distinguished, (provided one has something interesting to say). To get better at it, widen your interests and learn about anything from current events to local issue, this way, you'll connect with a wider range of people (and everyone knows that's a positive when it comes to networking).
3. Cultivate a reputation of expertise. Experts are in demand. Turn on any television channel and you can watch a parade of authorities in various domains give their perspective on healthcare, airline security, the economy or climate change- just to name a few. Particularly in times of uncertainty, we corner the experts to get answers and find out what can be done to either avoid loss of some sort or make gains. If you’re more of a generalist, find ways to go deep into a subject matter that can benefit others, and share that information where needed. A key is to make specialized information accessible and easy to understand. Otherwise, you’ll notice eyes glazing over and confusion replacing curiosity.
4. Build relationships and connect with people. Whether we are individual contributors, startup entrepreneurs or corporate leaders, we need the help of others to accomplish our goals. Being an unique person helps in building and managing relationships, but the reverse is also true. If we actively engage others, by, for example, inviting someone to lunch, involving a co-worker in a project, asking for a favor, offering support, or sincerely inquiring how someone is doing, we not only become visible, we become relevant. That's the foundation of mutually gratifying relationships. Always remember the most interesting people are also the most interested.
5. Engage in active listening. Aside from the fact that engaged listening makes us better informed about people and issues, giving someone our full and undivided attention can have a profound effect on their perception of us. Listening attentively is a “giving” rather than a “taking.” Contrast this with the person who primarily keeps the focus on themselves and the difference becomes crystal clear. When we’re listened to, we matter. Those who do most of the talking believe they matter- and who wants to be that guy?
6. Live life and share experiences. “Life is best lived inside, behind a desk,” said no one, ever. Our experiences and what we choose to share are what make others take an interest in us. People often live vicariously through the adventures of their more socially active peers. It doesn’t have to be running with the bulls in Barcelona -- we easily become a little more memorable when we discuss experiences of enjoying a meal at an exotic new restaurant, learning a challenging skill like waterskiing or attending opening night at the museum.
These steps are merely a starting point as we manage ourselves to find our own personal niche so we can always be the most interesting person in the room.