Everyone recognizes the importance of expanding your network. What rarely gets said is that meeting people is only really valuable if they remember you. What's the point of chatting with that high-profile investor or awesome potential hire at an event, if all the person thinks when you get in touch later is "who?"
The coolest and most in-demand people get a lot of introductions. So how do you stand out from this crowd without being creepy or gimmicky? Experts have a host of clever tricks to offer:
1. Go niche
Several experts note that being more specific when you talk about what you do will make you more memorable. "Most people say, 'I do legal work' or 'I help people with the accounting' or 'I set up computer systems,' says author Mike Michalowicz on Open Forum. "Aspire to be 'the guy' for a niche category in your industry. So instead of doing computers or even being 'the computer guy,' be the 'stable computers guy.'" Assumedly, this works for gals as well.
2. Get pumped
Your attitude is everything when it comes to being memorable, so make sure you get it right before you even enter the room. "Make a list of the things that make you feel pumped," advises the Huffington Post. "It can be anything from memories, to stories, to people, to songs, to funny YouTube videos. This is your official pre-event routine. No one can go into an event cold and be their best self--and that's the only way to be truly memorable."
3. Offer interesting answers to boring questions
At any sort of gathering, you're guaranteed to be asked the same basic questions again and again, like "How's it going?" But just because someone's opener was uninspired, it doesn't mean your answer has to be. "Instead of saying, 'Fine,' 'OK. How about you?' or 'Keeping busy,' next time try giving some uncommon honesty," recommends Lifehack. "Don't parrot back your usual response. Think of something positive, unique, or funny that you are doing, and give them a one-line summary."
4. Ask about love, not work
"What do you do?" is an easy conversation starter but not a memorable one (and the small talk it leads to is likely to be uninspiring too). On Careerrealism.com, J.T. O'Donnell recommends you say this instead: "I'm trying an experiment. I read an article on a site that said I should ask people three things they love to do instead of what they do for work. Tell me, what do you love to do?" All you have to do next is "smile, listen, and watch the person you are talking to come alive." You might want to lose the throat clearing about where you got the idea, but the question itself seems worth a try.
5. Work your wardrobe
"Ever wonder why certain celebrities or artists walk the red carpet in some absurd getup?" writes Rebekah Iliff. "Or why athletes, usually resigned to wearing uniforms, decide to sport crazy hairdos or tatted-up arms? Finding a 'shtick' is often a great way to stand apart from every other person in the room. Don't worry; you don't have to do anything too outlandish. Even just a cool hat or a pair of funky socks can be the spark that ignites a conversation and makes you more than just a vague recollection and a job title.
6. Leave them wanting more
You're much more likely to recall (fondly) the person who left you wanting more from a conversation than the guy who wouldn't shut up long past the point of boredom. "If someone starts eye-surfing or summarizing the chat, which can often be subconscious, it may be time to move on," executive coach Gina Rudan explained to Woman's Day. In fact, if you can manage it smoothly, you might try ducking out when the conversation is still going strong to leave you something to discuss when you get in touch later.
7. Try the instant introductory email
Here's an idea from right here on Inc.com: Send an introductory email on the spot. Mike McGee of the Starter League shared this trick for the end of a conversation: "[I] pull out my phone and ask people to enter their email address. After that, I send them a quick intro email and boom! We're connected. While it's a little awkward in person, it has exponentially increased the amount of followups I get after meeting someone the first time."
8. Mind the basics
Clever tricks can work wonders if you're hoping to make a lasting impression, but that's only helpful if the person actually has good memories to take away from the encounter. That's why almost all the experts agree on the fundamentals of making a good first impression, including always remembering people's names, smiling, making eye contact, being authentic and open, and expressing genuine interest in others. These things should go without saying, but it's always worth brushing up on the basics before any event where you'll be meeting new and interesting folks.
Do you have any tricks for standing out from the crowd that you'd like to share?