I had a chance to listen to a presentation done by Mike Collins of The Perfect Workday Company at a seminar the other week. He’s an idea factory when it comes to task and productivity planning, marketing focus and innovative ways to actually have a good time doing what you enjoy. It doesn’t hurt that his attitude alone could raise a boat off the ocean floor. Listening to him talk for a few minutes gets your feet jittering and makes you do that thing where you flick your pen around in between your fingers the way a happy dog wags it’s tail – I think of them as “idea twitches.” But I digress.
I won’t go into everything he talked about, but there are one or two things that I keep going back to. Mike has a “shiny penny” theory which is this: stand out like a shiny coin on a dreary day. I want to hit myself in the head it’s so simple, but it’s so true and it’s a great mental image. Think about first impressions – if you’re shiny, people are absolutely going to remember you. How you handle yourself, dress, manners, being professional but being yourself. What makes you different and/or better than the next guy?
Speaking of first impressions, do you have a plan on how to explain to people what you do in a way that people outside your industry have a clue what you’re talking about? It’s an “elevator speech.” Know how to describe your business or profession within the length of time of your average elevator ride. In these days of sound bites and condensed factoids, it will really increase the chance that someone will remember the basic, distilled idea of what you do. I’ve had months to figure out What It Is That I Do, and my first practice elevator speech was a titanic joke. I couldn’t believe how bad I was at delivering a simple message about something I personally know so much about. It took some thought to actually put something together that, I think, will make sense to people when I introduce myself and have a few seconds to tell them about my work.
Oh, and one other thing. Please don’t be afraid of your local chamber of commerce. It’s amazing how much free information they offer for anyone willing to take an hour or two out of their week.