Yesterday I gave a talk on marketing yourself to a room full of college students, faculty and guests. It was the last in a series of Tech Talks at SOU partnered with SVTG, designed to give students valuable real world insight post programs & graduations.
Mine differed from the core of the series, though my hosts clearly believed the topic to be worth while: Once you’re done in our classrooms, how can you go forth and dig into the world around you?
It was with great pleasure I delivered How Do You Meet The People You Want And Need To Meet To Be Successful? When I was greeting everyone as they came into the room, I found that many were there solely for extra credit from other instructors. While I first laughed at this and felt it trivialized the series, I quickly realized what a great endorsement this was to the talks, and was happy to have ‘extra’ guests.
I covered ground on defining marketing, advertising and sales. I talked about some specific tactics and the why behind the efficacy of those ideas and how to apply a few. Handshakes, business cards, and in person encounters. We covered a lot of ground.
One of my signature elements of this talk is the introduction and sharing about my yellow sweater. I want to share it with you right now.
Last year I was at a conference, in Chicago, IL, USA. There were likely 300 – 400 people in the large ballroom awaiting the morning keynote so I settled into a mid to forward room table, facing the stage. Once the speaker began, and I was listening, he stated that there were two microphones in the room, gestured to them and invited us to step up at any time to ask a question.
Opportunity favors those who step up.
Marketing was knocking at this invite. So while I hadn’t intended to ask him a question, I immediately recognized the opportunity at hand. I quietly formulated what I wanted to ask, stood up, made my way to the mic, and patiently waited my turn.
In short order, he did in fact call on me. What I asked was somewhat unimportant to my goal in stepping up to the mic. I chose that time to, yes, ask the speaker an inquiring question. More importantly I was wearing my rather vibrant yellow sweater, got to stand and state my name and business, thank the speaker for letting me ask, ask, and then awaited his response.
A few birds with one stone, if you’re counting:
- The speaker invited people to ask questions. When a speaker does this they generally want people to do so. I was helping.
- I was able to stand in a noticeable piece of clothing, state my name for the entire room to hear, and ask an intelligent query.
- Instead of a direct question, I asked him for his thoughts on some such related idea, therefore not stealing his spotlight and asking him to expound on his thoughts. It’s always good form to be polite to the speaker who invites you to participate.
- I lingered for a moment after my words were out, thanked him for his answer, and made my way carefully back to me seat. The yellow sweater on the move.
After the speaker was done, it was lunch time in that same room. People rose, started working their way back to the buffet tables and chattered. And guess what else happened?
A number of people approached me, recognizing me from my yellow sweatered question, and engaged in a conversation. A few friends who didn’t know I was there mentioned later in the week they had seen me – in that yellow sweater. And overall I achieved what I wanted: to help the speaker, get noticed, and start conversations. I was marketing myself successfully, simply, and easily.
In telling this story to the room yesterday, I was in fact wearing that sweater. It’s a perfect entre into The Why it’s important to realize you, as your brand and own entity, make impressions all the time. By purposefully wearing that yellow sweater, I deepened my impact at the event. The sweater was a “pull,” as I call marketing – it pulled people in, giving them a reason to approach. We have that permission anyway, though some have to wait to be compelled or get their own internal green light to do so. I was trying to make it easier as well.
Throughout the remainder of the conference, and especially that day, I had people approach me, just as I approached others who caught my eye. It worked – that simple yellow sweater.
Like it or not, how we look is how we are first judged. Be aware and thoughtful to your garb as it makes a tangible difference in how we get noticed in the world around us.
So….do you still have one of those boring black luggage bags that everyone else also owns? Maybe it’s time to find a yellow one. I guarantee it’ll start conversations.