Gaining a competitive edge in today’s business world requires a unique combination of skill, experience and the ability to stand out in a crowd. Searching for a job, shining in your company, or being an industry expert; these activities and goals require various and many talents to be sure. However; making your mark requires more than skill and experience. You have to be truly unique to rise above the competition and stand out in the crowd; a daunting task. In a society with pervasive social media noise and 24-7 news feeds, and a business climate saturated with voicemail and email overload, standing out in the crowd is challenging at best. So how do you do it?
Deliver the unexpected. In the business environment, this can range from a creative resume or job search approach to going above and being truly unique in the workplace. The Huffington Post recently highlighted a young Australian job-seeker who created a candy bar wrapper out of her resume and sent it out on a chocolate bar to would-be employers. When the story hit the news, she received offers from as far away as Europe. Someone else I know sent her resume along with three copies of US News & World Report’s top-rated hospitals issue when applying for a marketing job at Cincinnati Children’s. She shared how she would like to contribute to their marketing efforts to help keep them in the number 3 spot in the country. Unique and unexpected; these two candidates stood out above the crowd.
In your daily job, experts give so much advice on how to stay ahead of the pack and get noticed. ‘Under promise and over deliver’ is oft-quoted guidance. Also popular are; be on time, work hard, be professional, stay goal-oriented, etc. While these are solid ideas, the one I believe will make the greatest impact is effective communication skills; both speaking and listening. In John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, he maintains that “The ability to communicate and connect with others is a major determining factor in reaching your potential. To be successful, you must work well with others. To do that at your absolute best, you must learn to connect.” Being powerful in your communication is unique in the workplace. If you want to stand out above the crowd, try listening more and talking less. You’ll be amazed at the attention and people it draws.
Now, let’s turn our attention to standing out in the crowd as a speaker. In my experience as a speaker and an audience member at any event, I have found one common thread that garners the most attention – delivering the unexpected. The element of surprise – something that catches people off guard, makes them pause and think, or knocks them of their normal course of thought; these are the things that cause you to rise up above the crowd. I have two personal stories of the unexpected; one giving, the other receiving.
I attended a James Malinchak Speaker Bootcamp in Los Angeles one year, and wanted to get noticed among the hundreds of attendees that would be there. In researching his bio, I learned that James was a former UC basketball player under coach Tony Yates, whom my husband knew through a friend. Prior to heading to LA, I purchased UC spirit items and made a gift bag for James, and obtained permission from Tony to give his cell number to James. When the opportunity arose at the bootcamp, I presented James with the gift and shared Tony’s number. James was absolutely blown away by the gesture because it had been years since they last spoke, and Yates had had a profound impact on James as a coach. No doubt, this connection was memorable for James and it definitely made me stand out in the crowd. He referenced me many times over the course of the bootcamp, and in doing so I made 10 times the connections than I typically do at such events.
Just a few weeks ago, after joining a coaching program, they followed up with the unexpected. I was surprised when UPS delivered a package one day, as I hadn’t recently ordered anything. To my pleasant surprise, the organization sent a surprise gift to me as a new member. I had absolutely no idea it was coming, and the bonus of this gesture increased the value of the investment I’d made with the program. The unanticipated event made them stand out above myriad other membership programs I’d joined in the past.
As a speaker and presenter, passion, humor, and storytelling are the top three elements of delivering the unexpected to my audiences. People are wowed when I come in from the back of the room with boxing gloves asking, “Do you come out punching every time you speak?” This combines a little bit of humor with the unexpected. Women love the red vinyl shoes I use to mark the way to the training room for public workshops. This is storytelling in a sense, in that it connects with how to achieve High-Heeled Success. I’ve been known to use many props in my workshops, some humorous, some to drive home an important point, and others to underscore an idea I am passionate about. One of my favorite props is a wand that lights up and plays a magical chord when I wave it (thanks to Jenifer Quin-Wilson for the gift of the want). The wand is an unexpected object that underscores breakthroughs, ‘ahah’ moments, and steps of courage that many women take when they grow and develop in my workshops.
Are you delivering the unexpected in what you do every day? If you need help standing out above the crowd I’d love to help. We can explore ways to develop your presentation skills, increase your passion, your delivery or storytelling skills. Connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call at (513) 561-4288.
©Copyright 2016. Kay Fittes. All Rights Reserved.