This time of the year, the media is on overflow with advice columns for college grads about standing out from the pack during job searches and interviews. And for good reason, an estimated 1.7 million U.S. college graduates are readying to enter the job market.
That’s even more competition for getting attention in a workplace that is increasingly distracted. Standing out and being memorable is far from a requirement for tassel-turners. It’s the challenge-du-jour for seasoned workers, regardless of level or industry.
Being memorable makes things happen—for you and your workplace. People who captivate others’ attention and keep them thinking about them create a connection. That connection leads to dividends—a phone message from a traveling colleague that gets promptly returned, for example. An accepted lunch invitation from a busy client, or full participation at a team meeting that you are leading.
Nobody wants to be forgotten. But it takes work to register positively on others’ radar screens. Here are seven tips to help make you simply unforgettable:
No. 1: Have a face. If you can’t be there face-to-face for an interview, use virtual and social media to convey who YOU are through a photograph, Skype or LinkedIn entry. We live in a very visual world. Seeing someone helps create a memory and a lasting impression.
No. 2: Be present. Smartphones are great – but they make it increasingly difficult to stay in the zone and keep focus—mentally and physically. It’s a rarity to find someone who isn’t glued to their phone, either texting, checking email, voicemail or downloading a new app. People wander quickly, and when they do, it conveys disinterest. Whether it’s a virtual interview or one in person, make sure that smartphone is out of mind and out of sight.
No. 3: Have a story to tell. You can have a new one every day—or at least every week—based on a personal experience, something you learned, tried or accomplished. Fresh material keeps you interested and interesting. If you’re not interesting, how is someone going to remember you?
No. 4: Convey value in your communication. What can you do for me? That’s what’s buzzing in the mind of the person(s) that you interface with—by phone or face-to-face or electronically. Speak or text a thoughtful message that resonates with the prospective client or co-worker whose attention you seek. It’s not about you. If your message is self-serving, don’t expect it to trigger the interest or action of others.
No. 5: Have a voice: Pleasant tones and excitement can captivate the attention of a hurried employer better than an email. Of course it’s easier to send off a quick email, but with all the messages clogging people’s inboxes these days, it’s likely your email will end up in the deleted folder – and that’s anything but memorable.
No. 6: Be on point. Are you hard to understand? If you don’t know, assess yourself by noting others’ responses to your written or verbal communication. Frequent requests to restate a comment, get to the point or wrap-up quickly are warning signals that you likely drift off track and off point. Emphatically know the one big message that you want to say or send, before you communicate.
No. 7: Finally, pay a sincere compliment. Studies show that people tend to listen more closely to words of praise. Plus, taking notice of a colleague’s good deeds in the workplace or outside signals that you’re paying attention and are interested! You’re far more likely to leave a lasting impression if you’ve made them feel good.
Linda Dulye is internationally recognized for helping many companies go spectator free. A former communications leader for GE and Allied Signal, Linda established Dulye & Co. in 1998 with a practical, process-driven approach for improving communications and collaboration through an engaged workforce— a formidable competitive advantage, that she calls a Spectator-Free Workplace™.