What’s THEE best adjective to come after your name?
It denotes credibility.
It depicts desirability.
It displays buyability.
More importantly, “sought-after” demonstrates social proof, which is what helps your buyers (finally) relax and think, “Thank God I don’t have to be the first person to trust this guy.”
Successful marketing is about being demand. And the cool part is: The more in-demand you currently are, the more in-demand you ultimately become – because success breeds success.
But you’ve got to start somewhere. Becoming sought-after doesn’t just happen.
THEREFORE: Sought-after-able is the sum of your efforts to increase the probability of people demanding you on an ongoing basis.
The key word there is “probability.”
So, whether you’re a salesperson, entrepreneur, freelancer – or unemployed professional – consider these eight practices for becoming more sought-after than The Jonas Brothers at a middle school sleepover...
1. Become known as someone who finds (and solves) problems. Two words: Michael Clayton. In this movie, George Clooney portrays an in-house “fixer” at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. If you didn’t catch it, here’s the plot: Clayton is dispatched to hold the hand of a wealthy client who has just hit someone with his car and sped off.
Then, when told he could “make problems vanish,” Clayton responds with: “There's no play here. There's no angle. There's no champagne room. I'm not a miracle worker – I'm a janitor. The math on this is simple. The smaller the mess the easier it is for me to clean up.”
Clayton has no illusions whatsoever about what he does. He finds and solves problems. That’s what he’s known AS, that’s what he’s known FOR, and that’s what he’s known FOR KNOWING. And you don’t have to be a lawyer to leverage that kind of positioning. You just need to “share your expertise generously so people recognize it and depend on you,” as Seth Godin once wrote. What problem do YOU solve?
2. Build a timeline of credibility. “What have you done for me lately?” That’s the question your prospects are asking. And your challenge is to prove to and show them that you provide sustainable value. Here’s why: Before deciding to buy from you, customers are going to want to validate your abilities from multiple sources. Face the fact that resumes are an endangered species – somebody googling your name IS your resume.
That’s why you need to work with clients from a variety of industries. That’s why you need to contribute to a body of work, not just a single piece. And that’s why you need to accumulate and share rich background of experiences. Then, the secret is to leverage those experiences into a tangible, chronological entity that sells you when you’re not there.
Maybe that means an article archive or library. Or ten year’s worth of client lists. Or, a Media Room that links to each of your interviews. Or an online appearance schedule so people know where you’ll be next. Ultimately, customers want to work with someone with good judgment. The kind of judgment that only comes from experience. How are you quantifying that experience to become more sought-after?
3. Find something at which you can become the first, the best and the only. In Alan Webber’s Rules of Thumb, he suggests, “Invent NEW categories that fit the new realities. If you spot a category before it becomes conventional wisdom, you’ve got an instant advantage.”
That’s the road I took with the word “approachability.” Not “communication.” Not “networking.” And not “attraction.” Approachability. That was the word I owned and embodied. That was my School of Thought, my Life Philosophy and Theory of the Universe.
I picked a lane, put a stake in the ground, and hung a big, beautiful flag on it that nobody else could touch but me. I was The First. I was The Only. And that paved the way to become the best. Your challenge is to be the first to tell the marketplace what the criteria are and that you satisfy them. How will your brand transition from being nice to being necessary?
4. It’s NOT “who you know.” Nor is it “who knows you.” It’s whose life is significantly better because they know you. It’s how many people in your network feel honored to be a part of it. It’s how many people in your network believe that they have greater capability than before because they are a part of it.
And it’s how many people in your network see more possibilities in their world because of their connection to you – even if it’s some retired fighter pilot in Frankfurt who reads your tweets religiously. Ultimately, it’s not about the number of eyeballs that see you – it’s how much clearer those eyeballs can see because OF you. How do you want your future network to remember you?
5. Send a continuous flow of education. Not just information. Any schmuck can do that. You need to be a broker of wisdom. An impulsive and compulsive finder and messenger of truth. And it’s your responsibility to deliver that truth in an educational way via your permission asset that helps your customers grow their businesses.
Ideally, in a three-dimensional medium like video. Or, if you’re camera shy, blogging, tweeting, newsletters and the like. All that matters is that you keep the beat going. And that people remember that beat came from YOU. You will eventually compose a Thought Leadership soundtrack that rocks the face off of your market. How are you making your customers smarter?
6. Discover where your great joy meets the world’s great need. Theologian Frederick Buechner suggested this nearly fifty years ago. And although I highly doubt he was talking about small business and entrepreneurship, the lesson still applies: Balance your boldness. Make sure your dreams get acquainted with reality. And deploy your joy with meaningful concrete immediacy so the lives of the people you serve actually get better.
Here’s a helpful formula. Before taking action on your next idea, ask yourself three questions: (a) Am I the best at this? (b) Do I love doing this? (c) Will people buy this? If you can’t go three-for-three, find something else. What actions have you taken to ensure that your market knows what you bring to the marketplace?
7. Get people to physically recognize you. You don’t have to shave your head. You don’t have to get tattoos all over your body. And you definitely don’t have to wear a nametag 24-7. What you DO need is to consider is the value of physical recognizability as an impetus of sought-after-ability.
Running a Google Image Search on your full name in quotes is the perfect exercise to audit your current recognizability. As you explore the pictures (assuming you ARE googleable), look for patterns in your appearance. Note colors, trends and styles that are uniquely yours. Stick to them. You might even consider physically creating a “character sketch” for yourself. That way you can stay consistent. Tune into www.nametagTV.com to see what I mean. What’s YOUR look?
8. Building up a critical mass of interest. I don’t make cold calls. This is partly by choice, since I totally SUCK at cold calls. But the central driver of my critical mass of interest is by virtue of the sheer volume of material I’ve published since 2002. Most people don’t know this, but I write for four to seven hours a day. Four to seven hours. And when I get blank stares back at me, my half-joke/half-serious response to people is: “But I’m a writer. That’s what I DO. What do YOU do all day?”
I've been a writer since I was seven years old. It’s the only part of my life that I can’t remember NOT being a part of my life. So, it’s a perfect fit. And as such, writing is my occupation inasmuch as writing occupies most of my time. My job, however, is an author, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur. But writing is still the foundation. Writing is the basis of all wealth. And writing is the strategy that stamps tens of thousands of my digital footprints (in print and online) that lead people back to me.
And, you don’t even have to be a professional writer to leverage writing. You’ll discover that whatever industry you work in, writing is one of the few practices guaranteed to build a critical mass of interest in your brand, expertise and work. The hard part is, you have to do it every day. EVERY day. Because if you don’t write it down – it never happened. What did YOU write today?
REMEMBER: Becoming more sought-after-able makes you more credible, more desirable and more buyable.
I challenge you to put these practices into action, and you’ll be more sought-after than The Jonas Brothers at a middle school sleepover.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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Friday, October 16, 2009
What’s THEE best adjective to come after your name?