Being the kind of person others remember can be a huge boost to your career. But how do you make yourself stand out?
Where do I start?
“There’s a whole series of techniques,” says Peter Handal, chief executive of Dale Carnegie Training. “Make eye contact, smile and use people’s names. They’re basic and common sense, but not always common practice.” He adds that first impressions count. “If you start positive, people are more receptive, you engage them and you get their attention.”
What behaviour helps?
Rather counter-intuitively, one of the best ways to be remembered well is not to talk too much about yourself. “Really listen and ask questions,” says Jane Clarke of business psychologists Nicholson McBride. “You also need to ‘be present’. If, for instance, you’re at a dinner, there’s a temptation to wish you were next to someone else. That shows – so make sure you’re completely there. If you’re in a meeting, be in that meeting and not on your BlackBerry. When you’re talking to someone be interested and look for common ground such as someone you both know.”
Mr Handal notes: “If you are talking to people about themselves, you’re speaking their language.”
Amanda Vickers, managing director of coaching and relationships training company Speak First, echoes this view. “A lot of people put their heads down and try and do good work – and think that will be enough. They don’t want to boast. But being memorable is being known and getting on people’s radar,” she says.
For those who wish to go a bit further, Ms Clarke says: “It’s all about personal space. A lot of people walk into a room and make themselves small like you would on a cramped train. Instead, do the opposite. Walk in making eye contact and wanting to fill the space.”
Online social networks also offer ways to put yourself in people’s minds. “One of the easiest ways to make yourself more memorable on LinkedIn is to put a photo up,” says Ms Vickers. “People want to put a face to a name. You should also join groups, comment on discussions and tweet.”
What can you say?
“When people ask you how things are going, have a story to tell. Say this happened and this is what I did,” says Ms Vickers. The idea is to get a piece of information out there. “It needs to be short and to be about you rather than your team. Think in terms of your personal brand. If you want people to think of you as a leader, describe a situation where you took charge.”
What do I do afterwards?
“Follow up,” says Mr Handal. “If you don’t send something, the person probably won’t notice. But if you do, they’ll think: ‘I remember that person. They were good at …’ An email should only take a few seconds. Don’t send five paragraphs.”
He adds that if you come away from an event feeling you fell short, “practice. These things can be learnt.”
The writer is author of ‘The Careerist: Over 100 ways to get ahead at work’