Updated: Jun 28
Ever notice when you’re at a conference, in the office, at a party that some people have a crowd milling around them and others feel a bit more like Nellie no Mates. Some people you meet once and they’re forever etched in your memory. Others you’re digging deep into your karma bank to recall their when, when, who, who with after several rendez vous’. This can also translate to business. What is the secret to being unforgettable to those clients you’d love to work with or people you meet at the bus stop, or networking event who might be your next ideal client or new best friend?
The short answer is make it about them not you.
Everyone wants to be Apple and Nike. It seems like people rave about these brands and queue up to buy their products with little or no work. They ooze ‘the cool’ so everyone wants what they are having. You want it too.
Remember it wasn’t always this way. Apple almost disappeared into obscurity before Jobs returned in 1997. Soon after the world fell in love with the coloured iMacs that were the vanguard of the position Apple holds today. Nike were just doing it for more than two decades before they became the swoosh we instantly recognise. Bill Nighy has worked consistently before and after he shot into stardom on Love Actually.
Overnight success usually takes at least ten long hard (often doubt filled) years.
Don’t be seduced by anyone else’s now. Just like the serene swan who is paddling hard beneath the surface of the water, brand reputations are built project by project, step by step, day by day. And they never rest on their laurels. There are no rocket launchers to success but here are some sure and simple strategies that will help you get your foot in the door and open it as you become the centre of your own universe.
Always remember we’re all special and we’re all unique which is code for none of us are special but we are all unique.
The work lies in discovering and embodying that uniqueness, then connecting what you do with those clients who value and will happily you pay you for what you help them accomplish.
Once you know your point of uniqueness or differentiation there is no magic to becoming the magnet you want to be for the ideal clients you love to work with, but there’s still lots of work to be done. Copy these six habits of those who have gone before you.
Yes, it’s as easy as that. Like yawning it’s contagious! First you smile, then the person you’re speaking to does. The feel good transmitters are released – sparkly seratonin, ecstatic endorphins and delightful dopamine. It becomes contagious – meaning your good vibes draws out their feel good vibes. Feel the love.
You’ve no doubt heard that’s why you got two ears and one mouth. It’s useful to use them in this proportion. It’s widely acknowledged that men are inclined to want to fix and women lean in to empathise and share their their story. Most communication runs along the line of one person speaking and the other sitting on a trip wire waiting for their moment to jump in with the answer they are preparing. This could not be described as deep listening. It’s akin to Bingo, and about as satisfying.
We’re learning when we listen.
When you deeply listen to the feedback your client is giving or paying close attention to the questions they are asking or listening for the real issue beneath the problem they are presenting; they are gifting you with what you can help them with and how you can tailor your work to fulfill their needs.
Magnetic people are not only active listeners, they also don’t jump to offer their counsel or impose their own views on others. They understand sometime people just need to download. They receive information without judgement. They assume a neutral pose and hang back until they are invited to offer feedback and encouragement.
Misery loves company and whinging gathers a crowd like the world cup final but while everyone is united in a common complaint, courage lies in not being part of the problem but attempting to create a solution. It takes confidence to ask for help, admit where you’ve made mistakes, canvas feedback or admit a weakness. When a leader shows their humanity (aka imperfections) it give others the courage to ask for support. They feel they are not alone. It builds trust that you’ll be more empathetic and compassionate. When you openly share your challenges and fully own your imperfections, rather than diminishing your power it reinforces your integrity. It encourages people to feel safe to share their unspoken fears and challenges.
Appearing unrealistically perfect can intimidate more mortal beings and can alienate potential clients as they fear your judgement and not measuring up to your standards. People choose to work with people they can rely on to help them achieve the outcome they want. They likely choose someone who has experienced what they wish to achieve. They want to be impressed by your accomplishments and whom you have worked with (reinforcing their good choice). They also want to relate to you and enjoy their work with you amidst the challenges all projects worth doing bring.
Body language can make others turn towards or away from you. Just like smiling is contagious, gestures signal ‘Come closer’ or ‘I’m not interested’. Nobody wants to be in a conversation with someone who feels like they’d rather be anywhere else. Remember words carry only 7% of our communication. Gestures invite reflection. Appear defensive and you’ll likely meet defensiveness (crossed arms).
According to body language expert Vanessa Van Edwards, keeping your hands open and visible inspires trust and nodding your head three times, invites people to talk and open up more. Contrary to welcoming body language crossing your arms or legs is defensive. Keep eye contact when talking with another and if talking with a group make eye connect with as many as you can. Holding the eye gaze for a moment longer assures others you are interested and listening.
People love to talk about themselves. By asking gentle questions you are showing interest. Interested people are interesting. They learn more (when they listen deeply). They tend to like people and it shows. Here’s an article for some questions you could ask beyond the ‘What do you do?” or ‘Why are you here?’ every day beige questions.
And if at a conference or workshop take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions to connect with the entire audience and giving every attendee an easy and graceful entree to approach you afterwards. They and the speaker now knows your area of interest or expertise.
Now you know from reading my work, a central point of interest is the daily practice that compounds to build your brand (and your life) so how can you practice these actions daily?
Make it a habit to approach people with questions in online communities, in meetings or in the coffee queue as you get your morning takeaway (with a keepcup of course). Being curious invites others to open to theirs and will make others feel comfortable using you as a sounding board for their ideas. Curiosity, openness and vulnerability makes you look smarter and more confident and everyone wants to be associated with that clever people.
Are you prepared for the unbridled attention and business your new found connections will bring or maybe it’s time to get really clear on what problems you love to solve for your clients so you can both get what you matters to you. Check out my InsideOut Practice
And if anyone you know needs some tips on being more approachable, referrable or likeable please use the sharing buttons below. After all we’re all in this together.