Continuing our series on networking during International Networking Week, we turn to the importance of being memorable.
Have you ever attended a networking event, collected a bunch of business cards, and when you go through them the next day, you can’t remember who many of them are? Or try to think of someone you met and had a conversation with, but you can’t remember their name or their business to look them up?
Well, you certainly don’t want to be one of those that other people can’t remember, do you? It’s all well and good to pass out business cards, but if people don’t remember you well, they probably won’t be calling you to follow up, and they certainly won’t keep you in mind for their future needs or possible referrals.
Here are five tips on how to make yourself memorable (in a good way) when meeting other people face-to-face:
1. Be distinctive.
A brightly-colored, hand-painted tie, an unusual necklace or other jewelry, a good (but not overpowering) cologne, even just impeccable grooming can all help you stand out in a good way. It’s not that you want to be remembered and identified for that, but anything that helps people separate you from the crowd helps them remember the rest of you. You don’t have to be outlandish — although some people work that quite well — just don’t blend in completely with the crowd.
2. Be fully present.
Be fully engaged and fully aware of the people you interact with. You can break this down into smaller, somewhat mechanical pieces — listen well, respond promptly, maintain eye contact, etc. — but if you are truly present in the moment, those things will happen naturally. Many people only seem to be “half there”, so being fully engaged helps you stand out.
3. Ask thought-provoking questions.
Networking expert Bob Burg has some good suggested questions in his book Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales, such as “How did you get started?” or “What do you enjoy most about what you do?” But the very best questions can’t be communicated in a book because they’re specific to the person you’re interacting with and will arise in response to your initial conversation. Do #2 and this will flow naturally. As Dale Carnegie suggested, you must “take a genuine interest in other people”.
4. Reinforce your keywords.
People aren’t going to remember long descriptions of what you do, or likely even that 15-second intro that many experts teach you to make. People will at best remember a few key things about you:
- Your name
- Your company name
- Your business/industry (in three words or less)
- Your product
- Your location
What you want to do is find ways to unobtrusively increase the occurrence of these things in your conversation. For example, is there some kind of story behind your name? Have it ready to use if there’s an opportunity. Does your business have an unusual name? What’s the story behind it – what does it mean? Refer to your place of business when telling an incident that occurred (“I was driving down 17th Street leaving my store, when…”).
Anything you say that reinforces one of the five items above helps make you more memorable. And if they can remember just three of them — “Joe the barber from Soho” or “Maria the translator who wrote ‘Spanish in Six Weeks'” — you’re doing great.
5. Contribute to the group conversation.
Don’t hog it, and don’t say just anything in order to say something publicly, but saying one really smart thing at your table or in front of the whole group will make you much more memorable than half an hour of semi-conscious small talk. Create value for others and you create value for yourself.
When we look at brand strategy in marketing, one of the most important concepts is that a brand is not just a memorable name or logo — it’s an experience. A great brand communicates values and emotions that get called to mind whenever someone thinks of the name or logo. Here we’re talking about your personal brand. Remember that you are your business. The impression that you make on people is the impression they will have of your business, so make it good and make it memorable.