I’ll be honest with you. There are two things I don’t like very much: waking up early and dressing up formally.
And yet there I was this past Tuesday morning, getting into my car at 6:30am, all shaved and showered in full, sport-coat-wearing, business attire.
I was on my way to an early morning networking meeting in Lexington (MA), about 20 miles from where I live.
The event was put on by my friends Jeremy Bromberg and Victoria Nessen Kohlasch (nicely done, you two) who took the initiative to rent a meeting room and invite about 30 solo business professionals.
No agenda, no speaker, no place to even sit down. Just a room with food and a chance to stand around and meet some new people.
The only formal segment of the entire 90-minute session, in fact, was when Jeremy invited us to introduce ourselves and, as part of that, “tell us something interesting about yourself.”
So we did. We got in a big circle and introduced ourselves, in order, around the room.
20 minutes later, after we had all spoken, I realized something very interesting. I share this with you now:
- Of the 30 people, I could only remember the occupation and/or business focus of about five.
- Of the 30 people, I could remember at least half of the “interesting things.”
There was the guy whose house was going on the market that afternoon; the woman with the three kids under the age of five who was just happy to have showered; the guy who was “obsessed with tuna fishing” (don’t ask, I don’t know either); the woman who had the same first name as her cousin’s last name.
Even now, three days later, I could still list a bunch more if you gave me a few minutes to think about it.
Intriguing, isn’t it?
You’ve got all these professionals in the room together; people who are there, ostensibly, to make connections and generate more business for themselves. And yet when they explain what they do, it tends to be unremarkable and, as a result, unmemorable.
I know, I know. You think you stand out from all the other financial planners, or health care consultants, or life coaches, or whatever it is you do. All I can tell you is that in a roomful of people (let alone the world at large), we all kind of, sort of, look the same.
Professional, capable, well dressed? Absolutely. But all the same, nonetheless.
Personal information, on the other hand, is nearly always unique. There was just one tuna fish guy. One shower woman. One house for sale man.
And that’s the point.
Because when it comes to standing out as a solo, the differentiators are not your skills, your experience, or your capabilities. Yes, you need all that. The problem is, everyone else has them too, in equal number and quality.
If you want to stand out and be remembered, you need to do more than just tell me what you do and why you’re so good at it.
Instead, try to talk, write and connect with people at a much more basic level.
Because when the talking is over, it’s your human side – your hobbies, personality, interests, family, pets, experiences – that will keep you in my mind the longest.
Let me know if you want to borrow my dog.