Standing Out from the Crowd
Cormac Moore who runs Headcases in Ireland asked me to write an article for his website on the subject of 'standing out from the crowd', so I thought you might like to read it here too...
In my work as The Pitch Doctor, one of the most common questions that comes up is “How do I make myself memorable?”
Standing out from the crowd is actually one of the easiest things to do. Standing out for the right reasons is one of the most difficult.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a moment. What makes other people stand out to you? Who is the most memorable person you have ever met? And most importantly, why were they memorable to YOU?
A quality that makes you memorable is most definitely in the eye of the beholder. What is memorable to you is background noise to someone else. So therein lies our first problem.
Your challenge is actually not to stand out from the crowd, but to be memorable to the person you want to be remembered by. How do you do that? Simply by making a genuine, sincere and direct connection with that person.
I heard someone talking about leadership recently, and he said that he had approached Sir Richard Branson at a charity event and asked to interview him for a book. Sir Richard asked, “What will make your book different to all the others that are out there?”, and the guy replied, “Erm, I don’t know. You’ll be in it?”
He didn’t get the interview.
And the reason? It wasn’t because his answer was lame and ill thought through, even though that was true. It was because the guy couldn’t differentiate himself. Now, he succeeded in interviewing many other, less famous corporate leaders for his book. For them, being interviewed for a book was different, something new. But for Sir Richard, it’s something he probably gets asked to do at least once a week. In the words of Dash from The Incredibles, “When everyone’s special, no-one is”.
Psychologists tell us about the principles of ‘primacy and recency’, where our first and most recent experiences stand out to us most strongly. So that would tell you to be the first to do something. But history is littered with examples of people who were first, but were the first to fail. One hit wonders, as it were. And in any case, watch a typical episode of TV’s Dragon’s Den and you’ll see one entrepreneur after another trying to convince the Dragons that their new product is worth investing in, just because it’s new. The answer they often get is that no-one has done it before for a very good reason – because no-one needs it!
My overall advice to you is therefore to stand out from the crowd by not trying to. Don’t try to be different. Don’t try to be louder or brighter than your competitors. Focus on the one person you want to impress and just be yourself. Be honest, open and sincere. Tell them why you want their attention, and why you deserve it. You don’t need to be confident, because the nervous energy that you build up to achieve confidence easily spills over into arrogance, and that’s a guaranteed turn-off.
Finally, if you’re looking for three simple tips, here they are. To be memorable, approach the person you want to be remembered by and say:
1. I really want to meet you
2. I really want to be remembered by you
3. And here’s why…