Getting your message across has never been a bigger task.
I saw a great presentation the other day from marketing expert Paul McCarthy; he opened by asking everyone in the room to shout the name of their business at the same time.
The noise was piercing and, of course, you couldn’t tell one voice from another. Paul looked at us and said, “Welcome to the marketplace”.
It was a memorable way to be reminded there’s plenty of competition out there - whether you're a business owner vying for clients or someone looking to boost their career.
That got me thinking about what it takes to stand out in today's reputation economy, where everyone is striving for the same prize - attention.
Some approach this by shouting louder or trying to fill the spaces between the other voices by telling everyone how great they are. But that’s hardly a powerful way to get noticed. It’s more likely you’ll encourage people to switch off.
How do you go from being one of the crowd to standing out from it? This model is one way to build a stand-out culture for your organisation or yourself.
1. Get clear on why you're doing what you do
No-one will buy you if they don’t know what you're offering. It’s worth taking time to really get to know the essence of your brand. What do you or your business stand for? Not what’s in your vision statement, but at the very core? When people interact with you, what do you leave behind?
Knowing the essence of your brand means better decisions. When you have options, it's easier to know which choice aligns more closely with what you actually stand for. When negative issues arise, you can quickly assess their urgency.
Aim for clarity and simplicity in all your communication.
2. Don't operate in a vaccuum
Stand-out people - and their businesses - are switched on. They know what’s happening around them and can quickly identify what's likely to have an impact on them. That enables them to seize opportunities and address problems as they arise.
Stand-outs are ahead of trends and able to anticipate pain points before they get worse. When something isn’t right, they’re the ones people turn to for advice.
How much time do you spend in your own world, compared with considering the bigger picture and what it means for you and your organisation?
3. Be great at connecting with others
To be a stand-out you must be exceptional when it comes to human interaction. In an age when we can dash off a text in an instant, we as a race risk losing the art of person-to-person connection.
Practise and cherish those skills; make a point of focusing on rapport-building whenever you’re in a conversation or meeting. Do it deliberately and notice what happens. Treat every communication interaction as part of a relationship, however brief it might be.
Even though we have the ability to network with a global audience, the people who know us best still have the greatest potential impact on our business or career success.
4. Get your systems right
You know you're already a good operator. You have solid communication skills and you’re talented at your job or in your business. What super-charges that performance from good to stand-out is using proven frameworks, templates and processes to interact in an even more powerful way.
Once you're clear on your purpose, increase your awareness of what's going on around you and build your skills in connecting with people, the last piece is to take a systematic approach.
Be clear on what you want to achieve and plan each step to get you there. Learn what's worked for others; use templates for writing better emails, frameworks for having more effective conversations or delivering presentations to meetings or larger audiences.
Whether at a business or individual level, standing out is more than shouting loudly to make yourself heard. It takes time and a multi-pronged approach.
What are you putting in practice today to make sure you stand out tomorrow?