One thing I think a lot about is contrast; what things I can do in order to stand out. In my personal experience, standing out typically provokes the ideal response – this is why it occupies my thoughts. The last thing I want is to be “just another [insert role here]”.
Here are 8 simple things you can do to stand out.
Inject Personality into Things That are Typically Mundane
Everyday we’re presented with digital canvases to have fun and make people smile. Email copy, calendar invites, and online profiles, amongst other digital mediums, all represent an opportunity to stand out. Most people just go through the motions during the interactions which occupy these elements. This is why injecting personality into them can be so powerful. Here are 3 specific ways to stand out by using personality within online interactions:
Email Sign Offs
Each one of these examples depicts someone injecting personality within something that is typically boring. Not only did I get a kick out of each and everyone of them, I look forward to interacting with these people because at every touch point they’re bringing it.
This is an old school trick people seem to have abandoned after applying to their first job. Again due to scarcity, writing a hand written note is perceived as going the extra mile. In my humble opinion, this holds true regardless of where you are in your career.
I use a service called SendOutCards to easily send physical cards. Instead of buying cards and stamps at CVS, SendOutCards allows me to select a card and customize the message. From there, they’ll print it at their warehouse and physically mail it for me. The cards aren’t handwritten, but printed in a script of your choice (you can barely notice the difference between actual handwritten script). This saves me a ton of time and the average card costs me about $1.50. I probably send one a week.
Use 2 Dollar Bills
I got this trick from Scott Dinsmore. There is something enchanting about a two dollar bill. People seem to think they’ve evaporated off the planet. In reality, you can go to a bank and pick up 50 of them tomorrow. Because of the perceived scarcity, people feel special when you give them one. “You’re going to give me that $2 bill? I only come across one of those every few years!” As Scott points out, these are perfect to whip out when leaving a tip or giving someone change.
“Let me know how I can help you out” is a popular phrase people like to throw around. Sometimes people really don’t know how they can help you. Other times, this is simply a hollow attempt to seem thoughtful.
I feel like in most instances, if you spend thirty seconds thinking about it, you can probably obtain a pretty clear understanding of how you can help someone out. So instead of dropping the ol “let me know...” just take the initiative to help by addressing an obvious need!
Here’s an awesome example of this that recently got my attention. Given the velocity of my posts, people who read this blog should have a sense that I care about it. One of the students in my new skillshare class took the initiative to provide some awesome, actionable insight into how I can improve my blog. Note* I’m not highlighting flattery to toot my own horn like a tool, but rather to show what thorough feedback/initiative looks like.
Peter didn’t wait for me to say “you know Pete, I’d really like you to tell me how to make my blog better.” Rather, he identified that I cared about it and took the initiative to offer feedback that he thought would make it better. Way to go Pete. I look forward to meeting in person some day.
I don’t know why the only time I get Ecards are for invitations to $150 birthday dinners for girlfriends in New York (so honored to be invited!).
There’s many occasions where instead of an email, you can send someone an awesome e-card. Birthdays, thank you’s, and even calendar invitations are all great opportunities to replace a boring email with a creative Ecard. Next time someone confirms a coffee get together – send them an e-card invitation for “Coffee and Stimulating Conversation” instead of “Scott / Name Coffee”. You’ll be pleasently surprised at their reaction.
I use paperless post to do this.
Come Bearing Gifts
I don’t know when the phrase “come bearing gifts” was brought into existence, but it’s become a mainstay for a reason. Unexpectedly bringing someone a gift is one of the most thoughtful things you can do.
Over the past two years, I’ve had coffee to talk shop/life with probably over 150 people. I regret to admit that I can’t recall many of these interactions unless prompted. However, I do distinctively remember getting together with Judi Huck and Nathan Gao. Both of them were kind enough to bring me a thoughtful gift for no other reason than a kind gesture. I will always remember this. Strive to be memorable.
Let People Know How They’ve Helped You Learn or Grow
One of the most powerful things you can do is explicitly tell someone how they’ve helped you learn or grow.
We all have people in our lives that help us take an element of our life to the next level. This can range from your amazing boss who you interact with everyday to a blogger whose radically shifted the way you think about something in a beneficial way.
Let these people know how they’ve affected you (and make sure to be specific). I not only do this for people I know, but when I come across someone whose influenced me from afar such as a blogger or author.
Get to Know People’s Name (and address them by it)
People love hearing their name. It’s just a fact. If you’re goal is to ingratiate yourself with an acquaintance, try using their name when interacting with them: “Hi Scott”, “Thanks Scott”.
One instance I practice this that most people don’t, is at local business establishments I frequent. People behind the counter are often treated as a means to an end (my groceries, coffee, laundry etc). Guess what? These people all have personalities, thoughts, and dreams just like you and me! They deserve to be treated as such.
Every time I go into a new establishment I’ll likely frequent, I make sure to ask the person’s name whose helping me. Immediately after I leave, I’ll take out my phone to record their name as well as a descriptive adjective to remember them by. Before the next time I go into the store, I’ll look at my notes to jog through everyone’s names.
It’s amazing to see the smiles on people’s faces when you come in and call them by name. Beyond smiles, befriending the the staff has gotten me some pretty sweet perks too!
These are just a few things I’ve done to try and stand out from time to time. If anyone else has any unique practices, tips, or ways to stand out please share them in the comments.