Although there’s plenty of business out there for everyone, you will certainly come across, or become aware of, other HR consultants offering similar services in your area. There are several things you can do to make sure clients come to you rather than them, but one of the key things you can do is make yourself memorable, to potential clients, and even more importantly, to those people who can refer work your way. Here are some things you can do to ensure you stand out from the crowd.
Distinguish yourself from the competition
Familiarise yourself with other HR consultants in your area. What services they offer, what their background is, how they come across in person and online, how they interact with clients and others. Obviously it’s always good to be aware of what else is out there, but it’s important as it will help you identify how you are different.
You need to have in your mind why you are better than others. What do you offer that they don’t? How is your approach to clients different/better? How are the services you offer different and why is that better? It’s not just about you knowing why you’re good, it’s about identifying how you are different, and why and how that is of benefit to potential clients.
Think about how you look
It may seem unimportant, but your physical appearance does make a difference. When you meet someone new you only have a very short time to make an impression, and rightly or wrongly, how you look will form a part of that. So consider how you wish to present yourself to people and dress appropriately. In terms of making yourself memorable, consider what options will help you stand out from the crowd without detracting from the image you wish to present. A simple example would be a top in a bright colour (which suits you) rather than plain white, or perhaps sticking with a trademark colour or memorable accessory when you meet people.
Tell stories when you meet people. Ideally stories that illustrate your skills and experience; examples of how you’ve helped a client perhaps, but actually stories generally in conversation as well. A certain amount of small talk is inevitable, but if you can make your small talk more interesting with engaging (and ideally entertaining) stories, so much the better.
Being memorable doesn’t mean talking lots. People remember people who actively listen to them, who pay attention, ask relevant questions and engage with them.
When you meet people, don’t leave it at that. Follow up with an email or phone call, perhaps suggesting a one-to-one meeting if that’s appropriate. Use detail in the follow up which will ensure the contact remembers you and show you remember them.
Remember other people
You may meet lots and lots of people in the course of your business, especially networking. So will those you are meeting. So if you can indicate that you remember them, you’ll make an impression. When you meet someone, make a note (not there and then, later on!) of some details of the conversation you had, and about the person. Then when you follow up (you are following up aren’t you?), reference some of those details. When you go to a networking event and can see who’s going to be attending, cross reference the list of attendees with your database so that if there is anyone you’ve met before, you can refresh your memory about them and use that in conversation.
Think about your niche
People you meet may also meet several other people who offer the same or similar services, and if so, there is a risk that you may all blend into one. So if you can identify yourself as specialising in a particular niche market in some way, you’ll be more memorable, and will leap to mind when an opportunity to refer in that niche comes along.
Be of value immediately
Help people. As soon as you meet them if you can. You may be able to offer advice, either about your specialism or something entirely unrelated. You may be able to connect them with someone you know who will be useful or interesting to them. People remember those who are of value to them.
Use the same photo
You may appear online in various different guises and places, including probably LinkedIn, Twitter and your website. Use the same photo consistently everywhere so that people become familiar with it, see it as often as possible and therefore remember you.
It goes without saying that you should always do a good job. But it’s not just about providing value to your clients. Being fantastic means that clients will remember you and instruct you again (if they don’t become a regular client straightaway), and will tell others, including the person who referred you, who will then remember that and refer people to you again.
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