Picture a person you consider to be successful. Whoever comes to mind will depend on who you are and how you define success. Ask a hundred different people to picture a successful person and you’ll get a hundred different answers. What those hundred different people will have in common is this: not one will struggle to remember that successful person. That successful person is unforgettable.
People who are highly successful are always unforgettable. For the past several years I have had the honour of knowing and working alongside many people that are considered to be global thought leaders, experts in their industries and specialized in their topics. As a result, I often get asked the same question from others wanting to know more about these successful individuals—what’s the secret to their success?
Beyond the standardized list of traits you know successful people to have—traits like resilience, tenacity, perseverance, an ability to bounce back from failure—successful people understand the importance of each interaction, no matter how big or small, or how directly related that interaction may seem to be in the moment to their professional pursuits. In other words: they value the process, sometimes more than the outcome. Their actions make them unforgettable.
So how does a person become unforgettable?
- Listen to others.
Everyone is after a sense of belonging; they want to feel that their time and experience is important to you, and that you’re invested in making them feel heard. When interacting with others, call back to specific details the other person has shared, or even to earlier conversations you may have had with that person. Not only will you become memorable to that person, but you’ll also make them feel important and will strengthen the relationship as a result.
Ask follow-up questions, engage with others meaningfully and sit back and listen. If the person you’re speaking with feels comfortable enough to talk extensively (maybe even without realizing how much they’re talking) you’ve done your job.
- Be specific in your language.
The conversations you have hold power. Particularly when you’re interacting with someone for the first time, your conversations can either work to build trust or shatter a first impression.
I asked Patricia Fripp—National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame keynote speaker, and Cavett Award Winner— what she thought was the number one mistake people made with their word choice. “Being nonspecific,” she said. “And that comes from being unprepared. Now the only way you’re going to find it easy to be specific [in presentations, on stage, in formal settings] is to work on your everyday conversations. Because most of our conversations are not prepared, planned presentations; they are unplanned: quick opportunities to speak, running meetings, having casual conversations at networking events.” Well-practiced conversationalists avoid buzzwords, clichés, euphemisms and nonspecific words—words like “stuff,” “tons,” “you know, right?”. Specificity builds credibility.
- Pay attention to your body language.
Allan Pease, author of Body Language in the Workplace, says that body language reflects emotion. “Because all cultures have the same emotions—love, hate, anger—they have the same body expressions, the same gestures; the basics are the same,” he says. “Body language is an outward reflection of a person’s emotional condition. Each gesture of movement can be a valuable key to an emotion a person may be feeling at the time.”
The act of sincere listening changes your body language naturally. It will make others receptive to you and inspire them to share their story with you. When you’ve opened yourself up—physically—to the possibility of receiving another person’s emotion and experience, that is your opportunity to nudge them in the right direction, whether you’re interested in hearing about their business challenges, their professional experiences, or their recent achievements.
- Share your wisdom.
In a deeply competitive entrepreneurial environment, make an impression by being willing to share your wisdom and the path to your own success. Treat each first impression as an opportunity to reveal you who are and what success means to you.
Be generous with your time, your successes and even your failures. Think about the stories you’ve heard by other thought leaders and experts—the lessons they’ve shared carry weight and impact for your own career path. Consider how to leverage your own storytelling abilities to be that person for others.
Practice these tips and you will leave an impression that lingers long after the interaction has passed. You will leave others wanting to continue to build a lasting relationship with you. You will be remembered.
Results Driver | Strategic Thinker
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