12 ways to be known beyond your inner circle

When I started out on my own in 2000,  I had to constantly look for ideas to promote my work,  though I had little money.  Ten years after starting up, I find that I am continuing the effort, because it makes business sense and is fun. As Shakespeare said “Charm lies in pursuit, not in possession.”

Here are a few things that worked for me (and continue to work even today)

1. Explain clearly what you do, to every one at home.   

heymarchetti fathersonYour wife, your daughter, your in-laws, every one. No exception.    Every time someone asks “What does your son-in-law do?”, and the answer is “He is a consultant.” it is a wasted opportunity.

Instead the answer should be “He trains people to think differently.” That invariably leads to a slightly longer conversation about me and my work. The word spreads, correctly.

2. Be interested, be interesting

Imagine a long flight. The person sitting next to you seems pretty curious about the book you are reading. What do you do? Smile, offer the book and say “Want to take a look? It is an unusual book.” or simply turn your back and pretend he does not exist? The first option leads to a conversation and you can use the opportunity to say what you do, in a memorable fashion. I have got several new leads from such conversations. (Incidentally it is more important to get the other person’s visiting card than be so eager to give your card.)

3. Leverage your strengths, 

When I was in Ogilvy, I wrote a series of articles on Direct Marketing  in The Hindu Business Line. When I started on my own,  I wrote a new column called ‘Idealyst’ for several weeks. I then put took together a small booklet with a collection of these articles and called it the ‘Idea Book’. For sometime I gave that as my visiting card! Later I started giving a handy booklet called “Ignition Spark”. It has 1000 active verbs to help you generate ideas. Both books carry my contact details. Now visitors to my site can download this free.

4. Be prepared

Luck is ‘Opportunity meeting preparedness.’ I had a chance meeting with some one in CNBC TV 18 and he took me to Govindraj Ethiraj. They were planning to do a series on ideas. He wanted my views and in the course of the discussion he said “Why don’t you anchor it?” I hesitated just for a few seconds and then agreed. I was on CNBC TV18 for 13 weeks running series called “The Power of Ideas”.

Be prepared to seize any opportunity to be in media, technical panels etc.

 5. There is more to the internet than Google and mail  

I keep looking for interesting sites, communities and networking opportunities. I test ads in LinkedIn, Facebook etc at low

I participate in discussions. I have re-written my profile at least six times in the last ten years. I now have prospects who have read my blogs, my profile, recommendations etc. The quality of our conversations have improved dramatically. Therefore conversion rates from enquiries to business are improving too.

 6. Ask good questions

I have seen people asking questions but not listening to the answers. It is such a waste. Master the 5W + 1 H formula. 5W is who, what, when, where, and why. 1 H is how. Who, what when and where get you specific answers. They could stop conversations. Why and How could start good stories. They are excellent when you speak to strangers and prospects. This way you can make every conversation memorable for the other person.

7. Have a good collection of stories

Remember challenges that you faced and how you solved them. Use the 5W+1H and have a collection of interesting stories about how you solved problems in your business. These are your short case stories. Always focus on the human side if it is a general audience. Focus on the technical side too if it is a business/technical audience.

 8. Learn to speak well in public

Many organisations like the Rotary keep looking for good speakers. If you are known as a good speaker, you will get several opportunities. Subjects like ‘How to start your own business’, ‘How to win in a world of big businesses, though small’ etc are eternally interesting for people.

9. Prepare your own solutions-menu

avlxyzBrainstorm and prepare a list of ‘customer pain areas’, in the context of your business. Think about what you can do to alleviate these or solve problems. Have a menu of what you can do to help, in your mind. This can lead to useful conversations and also establishes you as an expert.

10. Read newspapers differently

When you read a news paper glance through what catches your eye. I once read an interesting recruitment advertisement. Their description of the new project interested me. I wrote to them clearly stating that I was not looking for a job, but offered my expertise for their business. Six months later I got a call and it lead to a substantial business.

11. Be different

Create an experience that is memorable. Go beyond just delivering what is expected. Consciously create a WOW! Dealing with you must be enjoyable and hassle-free.

Use even ordinary opportunities to create a difference. A simple example is new year greetings. Don’t send it at the same time as everyone else. Send it in the second week of January in the middle of the week, say Wednesday or Thursday.  By that time the rush would be over. You will be noticed. If your message is unique, they will even remember you.

12. Stay in touch

You simply can’t imagine how easy it is to keep in touch these days.  E-mails and SMS are powerful tools, use them well and creatively. Always ask ‘How will I like it if I receive a message like this?’ Do not send the message, even if you feel slightly  uncomfortable.

Keep track of managers on the move. If you have worked with them, they can be your ambassadors in their new companies.

These twelve ideas have cost me very little but have worked for me very well. They are worth giving a try.

*This blog first appeared in