An Opportunity to Stand Out

forkspoon  photo by jeffsmallwood

If you do much networking, then you’ll quickly realize that everyone starts to blend in…which does absolutely nothing for you.  Garet King – a branch manager at CoreFirst Bank here in Kansas City shared the following article with me that does a great job of addressing this situation – take it away Garet:

If you pay attention to the conversations you are a part of and that happen around you, you will notice that we are all saying the same things. We talk to people on a daily basis. Collectively, we talk to a lot of people on a daily basis and most of these conversations happen in the same way. These dialogues may be about the weather or how the kids are doing. Conversations may drift towards a golf game or other sporting events. Comments are made about weekend plans or future vacations. On fewer occasions, people will open up about their life. Regardless, almost all of these conversations start the same way. “What’s new?”

“What’s new,” is an opportunity to talk about anything that you are working on. Whether this person is an advocate or acquaintance, they are opening the door and most of us waste the opportunity. The typical responses are, “same old, same old,” or “just work.” If you are having a challenging day, “same crap, different day,” might come out of your mouth or, “not much,” if you’re feeling indifferent. Regardless, these answers are a waste of a golden opportunity to create another connection.

Maybe you’ve spent some time researching and learning about social networking. When you’re talking to one of your contacts and they say, “So what’s new,” this is the perfect opportunity to talk about your LinkedIn page. Your response could be, “I’ve been diving into this crazy world of social media,” or “I’m scheduled to go to this seminar about how to get the most out of LinkedIn for my business.”

The topics you could talk about include problems you are facing at work, goals you are working towards, or even current renovations of your house. Your responses to “what’s new,” can range from, “I have this employee that I’ve been trying to coach, but they just don’t get it,” to “I’m really trying to connect with medical professionals.” Not only have you created an opportunity to talk about what is important in your life at the current time, but this person is now educated about the challenges that you’re facing and they can help or potentially refer you to someone that can help.

But, “what’s new,” is not the only opportunity we waste on a regular basis. When we meet someone new, the same question always comes up: “So what do you do?” A typical response is to say your position and the company you work for. This is a missed opportunity to tell people what you actually do. Again, the person you’ve just met is putting the ball in your court. In a world of sameness and in a competitive business environment, a generic response groups you in with everyone else. By working on a set of responses ahead of time, you are prepared to differentiate yourself and your business – You are taking advantage of an opportunity to stand out.

You can talk about any pressing aspect of your job – Maybe a goal of yours is to increase your network. That conversation may start off like this…

Acquaintance: So what do you do?

You: I focus a lot of my time on attending events in search of people I can bring value to. A couple months ago, I met someone at a Leawood Chamber of Commerce event and now we’re putting together a young professionals networking group; a real win-win situation.

You have just turned what could have been a set of generic responses into a quality conversation. If someone wants to know your title, they can look at your business card; it is up to you to tell them what you do.

By taking some time and working up responses to these two questions – What’s new and what do you do? – You are taking control of your everyday interactions to solve your problems, achieve your identified goals and let people get to know you. Taking the time to reflect on what you actually do could also be an eye-opening experience.

Feel free to e-mail me your responses at I’ll share other responses I’ve received from other individuals.

Garet King

Garet King is an Officer and Branch Sales Manager with CoreFirst Bank & Trust.

Have you taken advantage of the every day opportunities to stand out?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach