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Dream Big! Are You Making the Most of Your Top Notch Skills?

June 30, 2010

Copyrighted Material 2010 - Marcia Macomber

Last Friday I had to give a little, 10-minute presentation. So I’ve got a captive audience. Ten whole minutes to get my ideas through their thick noggins and be remembered for what I do best. Easy, right? …Oh, no. I don’t think so. I, myself, forget almost every one of these I hear each week except…. A small voice peeped through. I remembered presentations that included great stories. I remembered folks with compelling voices, passionate drive. So, there it was: You’ve got to be genuinely passionate and driven to stand out enough to be remembered.

As a marketing person, one of the reasons this comes to mind is the core theme that ‘you are your own best marketing.’ Really? Are you? There are a lot of folks out there who are, more often than not, their own worst enemy. What I mean by this is that as the human billboard, we often don’t come off as well as we’d like to. We often don’t make the sale or explain our services nearly as well as we could. So what happens? We lose potential business that was right under our noses.

I don’t know how well I conveyed this last week. I strive to keep everyone’s attention the full time allotment, which means I don’t always get to look back at my notes, or I may stumble a bit through my content since I haven’t memorized it verbatim like an actor.

Here’s what I do notice frequently: Two strangers meet at a networking or social event. “Hi! What do you do?” says the first. “I’m do people’s books,” the second may reply. (And I’m wedging it into one paragraph, very uncouth with different voices in a written format.)

This standard dialogue continues with each person tentatively reaching out to find out what the other does without seeming overbearing or pretentious to the other one. Each is afraid to stand out too much or be perceived as tooting his or her own horn too much. Pretty soon you’ve got a big stack of BORING!

In their primary effort NOT to offend one another they’ve succeeded in coming off completely dry and forgettable to the other one. It’s the drive to be polite that overrides all sense of the need to be a human billboard – to stand out from the crowd. Very bad. Very unproductive for developing your business.

Now, is it possible that each of these talking heads is actually an interesting person? Is it possible that actually they are each outstanding in their respective fields of expertise? Yes. Of course. Did they convey this to each other? No. Not one iota!

This is where you’ve got to think like an actor: Stand out from the crowd. Don’t worry about offending the other guy. Don’t say all the usual stuff. Be memorable. Be interesting. Be funny. Be compelling. Toot your own horn!

Yes, it’s a tall order. But there are clear methods for achieving this goal without offending. Without being boring. Without stepping on toes.

Most business is pretty difficult stuff, meaning: it’s really hard work to be truly successful. It’s at least a zillion times harder if you’re not excited, driven, passionate about your work…or something related to your work. Some folks do the day-to-day client work so they can indulge in pro bono work that truly helps those most in need. Some completely get off on the coolest visual image captured ever – and they are photographers. Others are thrilled to find just the most perfect turn of phrase. And some are driven by their desire to be able to send their kids to the best schools possible.

Whatever floats your boat. Whatever gets your energy going. Whatever drives you is what you need to be talking about with that stranger you just met at an industry event. Maybe it’s an awesome view off the auditorium deck. Maybe it’s the conversation you just had with a sponsor promising funding for a pet project. All these things reflect what makes you, you!

It is actually very hard to be remembered for what you do, particularly at marketing events. You bust out your usual infomercial speech, and that’s exactly what it sounds like: a speech. A rehearsed, boring, uninspired collection of words that technically represent the platitudes and verbiage, buzz words and whatnot surrounding your specific industry that is forgotten as soon as it leaves your lips. So now what?

There’s a reason Cate Blanchett, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and many others in that line of work make the big bucks. They’re completely unique, indispensible. Their words don’t sound like speeches that anyone can repeat. They actually BELIEVE what they’re saying, and they say it in original ways–theirs. They’re passionate about every word coming out of their mouths. And you remember them…because of the passion in their deliveries.

Show business and Business business are no different. If you’ve nothing compelling to say to the person you’re talking to, you’ve just lost the sale, the deal, the big account. …And making a distinct memory. They can find another expert in widgets right next door. And that one will be passionate about why his or her widgets are the best on the planet. They will be remembered.

Dream Big. Make sure your dream actually reaches the other guy you’re talking with. He doesn’t have to share your dream. But he’ll remember you. She’ll try to find a way to hire you because you clearly go the extra mile. You showed her your passion. You sold him because your integrity came through in your explanation of your Big Dream.

So what is your action plan now? When was the last time a new contact said to you, “I have got to find a way for us to work together!”? When was the last time you felt, “She gets it. She really understands completely what I’m trying to do.” If you haven’t gotten that but once in a rare moment, you’re not working in the Cate Blanchett realm.  You’re not connecting a la Clint Eastwood. Go ahead, make his day!

Rethink your infomercial. Rethink your delivery. You’ve gotta grab ‘em by the balls. (Pardon my French.) To be remembered…you have to be memorable. Unleash your passion. Unleash your Big Dream.

How else are you going to achieve it?

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