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



How do I overcome my fear of swimming

Nicola Fear

I just finished dinner and was about to settle down with a book.

I received a call from my friend.

“Guess who is using TickleMeThink, I just downloaded?”

“Tough one friend! I have no clue.”

“Let me say it is not an adult.”

“Is that your daughter?”


“She is not even 10.”

“Yes, she insists that she will use it first. Of course I am typing the stuff but she is doing the thinking.”

“And what is she working on?”

“How do I overcome my fear of swimming”

“And is the app helping her get ideas?”

“She had a few ideas. Now she wants to use Call a friend. She saw your name on my contact list. So she wanted to ask for some ideas from you.”

“Why me? Does she know me?”

“No. She liked the idea of talking to another person with her Daddy’s name!”

My friend’s daughter and I had a nice chat. She had excellent questions and finally she got three ideas after a 10 minute conversation.

1. Become good friends with the swimming coach. Because if you know her, and like her, you will feel confident that she will take care of you.

2. Talk to other friends who learnt swimming recently. Ask how they overcame their fears.

3. Think about some other fear you had but it does not bother you any more. How did that fear go away?.

She was happy that she got 3 new ideas.

I spoke to her father later.

“How did you think of using TickleMeThink with your daughter?”

“I just downloaded it and she was watching me do that.”

“Would you use that again with her?”

“I think so. It was fun and she did not feel that I was teaching her anything. There were no rights or wrongs. She was talking all the time.”

“Is there any other comment you have on TickleMeThink?”

“Frankly I was not sure if it would work with kids. The call she made to you helped me understand how this can work. I am going to check this out with one of my business issues.”

“What else will you use it for?”

“I guess I can use it for any issue that I am grappling with. I may not get clear ideas all the time. But I would have got a break and some new perspectives, new angles. That is what is important. I think every tickle is like a new lens and it will show me a new possibility.”

“Thank you.”

“I must thank you for that chat with my daughter. She is feeling so good, that you listened to her.”


*Picture Courtesy Nicola – under Creative Commons License.