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A continuation of the How To Be Taken Seriously Posts – This one focuses on doing simple things others seem to ignore.
Once upon a time, I helped Tony Bennett with some public relations work for a non-profit he was involved in. The one thing I remember more than anything else from my time with him was that he stood up when a woman got up from, or returned to the table. No matter what else happened, he was old school like that, and old school was remembered.
My longest relationship wasn’t even going to have a second date until I did two things – I asked about my date’s day, and I stood up when she went to to the bathroom.
Below, let’s discuss some of the little things you can do that make a big, big impression when they’re least expecting you to.
1) Pay attention. This is probably the simplest one to say, yet the hardest one to implement. Think about it – When was the last time you listened to someone talk and actually comprehended what they were saying, as opposed to waiting for a break so you could start to talk? The thing about a conversation is, it takes actual work. It’s so much easier to listen while nodding your head and checking your blackberry, or wondering what you’re going to do for dinner. But at the end of the day, that won’t help you. Listen to what someone says and make notes about key points. Asking about those key points later, or following up on them, separates you from the rest of the people we talk to on a daily basis.
2) Separate yourself from the pack. The pack is stupid. Accept that and be better than the pack. That means doing things like your mom (and Tony Bennett) taught you. Stand up when a woman approaches the table. (This obviously doesn’t go for women.) Someone older than you? Sir or ma’am never hurts. (Ma’am can be dangerous, lest a right hook for thinking she’s too old. Imagine doing it with a tip of a cowboy hat, if you wore a cowboy hat.) Be the person who makes the introductions. “Sam, have you met Michelle? Both of you are into gastrointestinal research.” You’ve become at least, the connector, at best, the person who get to take the bow when Sam and Michelle get married.
3) Be the Go-to Guy or Gal. You have a purse or pockets? (Or an SeV?) Here’s what should be in it, at all times. Gum or mints. Two dollars worth of quarters. A safety pin and a paper clip. If you have the space, a small multi-tool with a corkscrew. Obviously, a pen and a small notebook. (Navy SEALs are required to have paper and pencil at all times) a few business cards (preferably not creased or stained) and finally, an emergency credit card. and a folded up $50 bill. True story: I was once on a plane and sitting next to a lovely young woman I’d met in-flight. When we got to the taxi-line, she found she’d lost her purse. Gone. We tried to go back to the gate, but no luck. The airline told her they’d look for it. I gave her a business card, and my lucky $50 for her to get home. She called me that night – the airline had found her purse, and did I want to be her guest at a benefit dinner the next night at the Wynn hotel? As I hung out with this lovely young lady, met Seal and a host of other celebrities to whom she introduced me as “the wonderful man who saved her at the airport,” I had a lovely, lovely time. I also made some great new friends, and several future clients. Oh – and she paid back the $50.
4) Keep a mirror-image bag at your office or place where you spend the most amount of time after your home. A mirror-image bag is simply as it sounds: A bag with enough necessities to get you through 48 hours of extended away time. A suit if you wear them, a freshly pressed shirt and pair of jeans if you don’t. Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, underwear, socks, and – important – after shave or perfume. Check out Three Fluid Ounces to buy tons of small-sized mirror-image stuff. One of my favorite scenes in “True Lies” is where Arnold Schwarzenegger gets out of his wetsuit, dons a tuxedo, and has a small little compartment for cologne. You always want to be the person most put together in a situation where no one expects to have to be put together. This gets you remembered, not simply recalled.
5) Finally, know when to shut up. You see these people all the time in meetings. They talk to hear themselves talk. They have no good ideas, and no one wants to be around them when they start talking. They’re never invited to parties, and they rarely get promoted. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your reputation is simply shut up and listen. Plus, listening and not talking on occasion, makes you seem mysterious. People love people shrouded in mystery. It makes their lives more interesting by default.
Have fun, and if I’m missing anything that people rarely do but should, leave them below in the comments.