Steve Jobs, the late co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple was one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his generation, and certainly the most memorable. Above all, Jobs understood that to sell anything – yourself, your ideas, your proposals, you have to stand out from the crowd.
Here are six approaches to help you do this well.
- Provide ‘wow’ moments
People remember amazing experiences. They’ll remember them for years. Give your clients outstanding customer service. Surprise them with add-ons they weren’t expecting. In the office, be openly appreciative of your colleagues’ contributions. Mention them to people who those colleagues admire. Fuel your colleagues’ passion; ignite their interest; be encouraging of their efforts. Make life a breeze for your boss by being a pleasure to work with. Provide insights and contributions no-one else does. Make your boss look good. Volunteer to do things nobody else will do. They’ll remember you.
- Elevate people’s thinking.
If you can get someone to think differently about something, you’re half way there. ‘Think different’, as many of you would have spotted, was the advertising slogan for Apple Inc., used along with the following copy (via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_different):
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things...”
- Shine a light on memorable details
Can you highlight the people you have helped? For example, a psychologist friend of mine has clients who include premier league footballers. This kind of detail is perfect for referrals – she’s the lady who helps out premier league footballers. What projects are you proudest of? Are you the agency that caused the dramatic turnaround of a well-known ailing business on a shoestring budget? Talk about anything you do very differently to your competitors that your clients really value. Ensure whatever you share will resonate with the person you’re trying to impress.
- Tell a story
Relay a story about something you’ve achieved and the impact it had. It’s key that you link your story to the needs of the person you’re trying to impress. This helps them to perceive you as uniquely placed to help them, rather than you simply discussing your awesomeness. Remember – facts tell, stories sell. Keep the story short, though. Talk about the most important parts early on and deal with the rest separately.
- Find a unique connection
Finding common ground is a great way to build rapport, and it will set you apart if you’re the only one who’s made the connection. Ensure it’s a real connection and not an assumed one or a forced, shallow one, and make sure you ask them about their thoughts on the common interest first. Keep an eye on their body language: if they don’t want to elaborate on the common interest you share, respect their wishes.
- Use mutual contacts
If you know someone who knows the person you are trying to impress, ask them for their advice on the best way to approach them. Better still, ask them if you can mention their name in your meeting. If they agree, it’s important to find out how they want you to mention them, for example, do they want you just to mention their name? Would they like you to talk about something they’ve achieved? By doing this you are ensuring your interaction benefits all three of you, and it’s this win-win approach that’s the key to successful networking.
Any of these approaches will increase your chances of being remembered. To differentiate yourself, it’s important to use at least one of them – ideally more. If you don’t, you’ll end up looking the same as everyone else.