As a journalist and long-time storyteller, I’ve learned these two things must be true to earn opportunities…
First, whatever you have to say or whoever you are must be true. Beyond that, it must be memorable.
It doesn’t matter how interesting your story is if it’s likely to be forgotten. Being remembered fondly is something I care deeply about. However, that wasn’t always true.
It took running into a former college professor in the store to realize I wasn’t memorable. Despite, being a star student in the class and now being in the same professional industry as the professor, he had no recollection of me. While he wasn’t insulting it was absolutely crushing to realize he didn’t remember my existence. Yet, I remembered his very fondly and vividly. It made me realize how many others I would never forget but have already forgotten about me.
The experience made me realize the direct correlation between a former professor not remembering my name and the success of my business. If my college professor couldn’t remember me, how could a business owner or marketing manager remember me? And if they can’t remember me, they can’t hire me.
The realization that you aren’t memorable is never an easy thing to sit with. No one ever wants to think of themselves as boring, common folk who fade into the night. However, it’s something you will have to accept if you want to strive professionally and personally. Once you accept it, you can begin making steps to become that memorable person whose name brings a smile to everyone’s face just by thinking of you.
You are not a boring person. No one is. Everyone has an interesting quirk or fascinating back story, no matter how vanilla they seem. What is boring and thus not memorable is the way you present yourself. If at a network meeting, you begin by saying, “I’ve been in sales for the past 15 years so I’ve been fortunate to connect with a lot of businesses,” you are definitely boring and won’t be remembered. However, if you say “I’ve definitely been around the block for a while. I’ve connected with so many associates that one might call me the hooker of the sales industry,” you likely won’t be forgotten.
The second example may be a little too risky or inappropriate for some, but the key is to say or do something that can’t necessarily fit into a box. Say something interesting and you will be remembered as interesting. I am constantly telling people about my pocket Play-Doh at business meetings or networking events. I’m sure it sounds weird to some, but they always remember me. It’s not uncommon for me to be hired and mention my Play-Doh story.
However, being memorable is more about saying or doing something interesting. It’s about connecting. Once I reflected on the situation, I realized I graduated from college years ago and enrolled in this particular professor’s class long before I graduated. In all that time, I never once contacted him. I never emailed to let him know how I was doing. I never sent a card to thank him for all that he’s done for me. And I never stopped by his classroom just to say, “What’s up?” It’s no wonder I became a non-existent memory. I never made the effort so why should I expect him to?
I never did send him that thank you card. However, I did make an effort to reconnect with various editors I worked with in the past, former employers, and those I met in meetings. I even reached out to people I attended high school with. I don’t know how memorable my attempts have made me amongst people in my life, but I do know that effort is worth it. Not only can it help me professionally, but for some reason it touches me on a personal level.
Terri is a NJ based freelance writer, speaker and communications consultant.