I first met the expert for this letter of the A-Z series while skiing in Austria in 2014. If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you’ll know by now that you really can network while skiing! Mark Lee actually interviewed me for one of his articles, during our 2015 ski trip. That article brought me a new client, so I thought it only fair to say thank you by inviting Mark to be featured as one of my experts. I also wanted to include Mark in my A-Z as he has developed his own clever letter-based framework, on which he can hang the business advice that he now gives to his clients and prospects. When he moved away from accounting to providing business support to accountants, he recognised the importance of creating a framework based on his own material. Mark shares seven ways in which you can stand out and show that you’re different. You don’t have to do all seven at the same time – Mark advises that you pick the elements that work for you. Here they are:
A is for Appearance and Attitude. Think about how you come across, whether face to face or online. Are you creating an impression that helps you to stand out from the crowd?
B is for Business Branding and messaging. Where the letter A picks up on your personal branding and image, B is about how your business comes across and how you talk about it. What do you say when you want to be referred and recommended?
C is for Conversational impact. In order to stand out, you need to be able to have more powerful conversations than your competitors. The best way to have more powerful conversations is by being a better listener.
D is for Dependability and trustworthiness. Can you prove that people can trust you? Can you build trust faster than your competitors? A simple way to show that people can’t trust you is by not keeping your promises. Do the opposite – make a promise early on in a new business relationship and keep it. This can be as simple as telling a prospect when you’ll next call them and call when you said you would.
E is for Experience and Expertise. In order to stand out, you need to evidence your experience and expertise in ways that are relevant to the person you’re looking to influence. Don’t give a potential client a long list of everything that you can do, if it’s not all relevant to them. Mark doesn’t talk about his former tax accounting role as its not relevant to the accountants he now works with. Instead he tells prospects that his articles which have been published on accounting websites have been read over 1 million times. That evidences his experience and expertise in a way that is very relevant.
F is for Following up effectively and appropriately. You need to follow up after every meeting, engagement or online interaction, with both prospects and clients. Three weeks before writing this article, I met someone at a networking meeting, who I think could help me with a problem I have. I gave her my card and asked her to contact me. I’m still waiting to hear from her … Mark also suggested that if you’re a regular networker, make a note on business cards when and where you met that person and what you promised to do or when to follow up. I really like his 24-7-4 idea. Follow up in the first instance within 24 hours; then after 7 days and then after 4 weeks.
G is for Giving, sharing and caring. Be willing to help people; share advice; give help where you can as this is another way of evidencing your expertise and experience. Send a book to someone you’d like to work with, or a collaborative partner. Send a copy of your own book if you’ve written on. The cover price shows the value of what you’re sending (so make sure that your book as a price on it, even if you’ve published it yourself.)
I really enjoyed interviewing Mark for this blog post and hearing his advice. There is more on his website where you can access a free download of this framework. You can also follow Mark on Twitter @BookMarkLee for more regular advice.
Which of Mark’s letters will you work on first? Click here to let me know.