Imagine sitting around shooting the breeze with your University Alumni hockey team after a game. Somehow a local jail is mentioned and your goalie says “Oh no boys – you don’t want to go to that jail. It’s pretty rough.”
Do you think that this guy had the attention of the room full of MBA guys? Heck yes he did.
My friend Mike, who was telling me about this guy, said “he really could be the poster boy for Dos Equis’ most interesting man in the world”.
That got me thinking, what makes someone interesting? More importantly, are YOU interesting?
Think about the last time you were telling someone a story. Did they check their watch or glance around the room, or did they lean in and listen more carefully?
I like to blame the listener when I am not getting the attention I think I deserve, but it’s not always Dave’s fault. 🙂
This is not to absolve my husband (or anyone else) of their responsibility to actually be present and participate fully in a conversation, but it does mean that the only person you can control is you. If you want more attention, you need to be more interesting.
If you want to have any influence and impact on others in your life and business, you need to pay attention to what makes you interesting to others.
Guess who gets to be the topic of many conversations (free promotion!) and who will be remembered after a networking event? Think about who will get the phone call about the great deal or who will be called when someone meets someone who wants to invest their money in real estate without doing the work?
The person who was interesting and therefore memorable gets the attention and opportunities.
So what works? Here are 5 ideas for being more interesting:
1 – Tell Great Stories
You probably don’t want to go to jail to get people’s attention with your next story but, maybe you’ve done something else that was pretty unique. The story of me surprising my Dad with a trip to the Ferrari Museum to drive Ferrari’s around the Italian countryside is a story people remember and always listen to.
By virtue of being a real estate investor, you will have great stories that will interest people. How many times have you witnessed something crazy at a house you own or a house you were looking to buy? When was the last negotiation that had a surprise twist? When did your tenant do or say something totally shocking? These are stories, when told concisely and pointedly, that people will pay attention to.
Just remember, it’s about quality not quantity. Tell ONE good story and you’ll be remembered for a long time. Tell many mediocre stories and you’ll lose everyone’s attention.
2 – Being Different
Last weekend when I was playing poker at the Venetian, I sat at a table where there were 3 other women. With one other seat vacant, my arrival meant the table was now evenly split between men and women. I often am the only female at my table so I asked the dealer if he’d had very many tables that were half ladies. He laughed and said “only when it’s a women only tournament”.
I played with a total of 5 women in 15 hours. 3 of them were at that one table. I remember 100% of the women I played with and could describe each of them to you but I only remember about 20% of the men. The women stand out because they were different.
Being different than the norm has challenges but it can also be an enormous advantage because you immediately stand out. While there are a growing number of women real estate investors and women real estate investing experts, being female and an investor is still unique. If you are standing out and you are a confident expert it’s likely you’ll be easier to remember than the typical male investor.
My examples are all gender based so far but that’s far from the only way to stand out. You can also be different by branding yourself consistently. From the social media world, Mari Smith always wears Turquoise when she is networking and speaking. It’s been five years since I’ve seen her speak and I still think of her when I see that colour. In the real estate world, Erwin Szeto has built himself up as Mr. Hamilton by always wearing a Hamilton Tiger-cats jersey when he networks. Despite the fact I know many people who are real estate agents and investors in Hamilton, he is ALWAYS the first person I think about when it comes to Hamilton real estate because he made himself different through branding. What can YOU do to be unique and memorable?
3 – Focus on what’s interesting to others
How do you know what is interesting to others?
Don’t ask and tune out though. Watch to see if they light up and want to keep talking about it, or whether they shift around and kind of look bored. Keep asking questions until you find the thing that lights them up. If it’s something you know nothing about say “Wow – really. I know nothing about playing kick ball, how’d you get into that?”
Note that the typical question everyone asks, “what do you do?”, rarely creates any engagement unless you happen to have some connection there. However, “how did you meet your friend/your wife/your business partner?” can often be a great start. Or, “what did you do that was interesting on the weekend?” or even “what brought you here?” can be a good one depending on the context.
If you don’t have crazy fun stories and you aren’t standing out from the crowd easily, being interested in others and watching for signs of true engagement will make you very interesting to talk to. Plus, now you’ll know what stories of your own to share because you’ll know what they are interested in.
4 – Wait for the right time to tell your story
It’s easy to get mad at someone for not listening to you but when did you try to talk with them? Were they in the middle of something? Was the hockey game on? Were the kids running around the house creating a lot of distractions when you began the conversation?
If you want people’s attention you need to tell your stories when there is a lull in the conversation or when there aren’t other things going on that will take away from what you’re saying. It’s not always a good time to speak if you want to have someone’s attention.
5 – Choose Concise and Clear Language
I actually think I am pretty good at focusing and yet I’ve been using the app anti-social to stop me from randomly clicking around to some of my go-to distraction websites (Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post, Amazon and a few others). It scares me how many times the app has stopped me from mindlessly exiting from my task at hand to click around. Our ability to focus on any one thing for a long period of time is lower than ever before. We are training ourselves to be as distracted as my dog on a walk.
You have to know that you’re up against a very short attention span when you are trying to communicate any message at all.
Keep your messages short and to the point as much as possible. But, in keeping them short, make them easy for your listener to picture and be a part of.
Think about these short sentences that began movies: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” ~ Goodfellas
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….” ~ Star Wars
““I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being.” ~ Stand By Me
““Mmm. I look good. I mean, really good. Hey, everyone! Come and see how good I look!” ~ Anchorman
These starting lines make you lean in and listen. You might be ready to laugh, you might feel nervous or a little concerned but you’re into it with only a few words. You are interested.
When someone starts looking at their watch or glancing around the room while you’re telling a story, it doesn’t mean your story is bad, it might mean you need to practice telling it so people want to listen. The best stories can be ruined with unnecessary detail. A great movie can be made boring by extending the fight scenes on too long or spending too much time in any one scenario.
Practice telling your stories so can maximize your impact with the fewest number of words. The best public speakers have this mastered. You should too for a few key stories so you always have something to share to get people’s attention and help them remember you.
With a little attention to what works and taking the time to practice, you can be interesting even if you’re putting your dog to sleep when you speak right now. Take note of what makes others engage with you and what has them looking for the exit. Start testing out new ways of delivering a message and pay more attention to what the other person wants to speak about. Before you know it, you’ll be remembered as the interesting real estate investor and people will be calling you to discuss a deal or an investment opportunity.
First Image Credit: ID 42478786 © Gstockstudio1