So often, I hear individuals share that their difficulty with differentiating themselves, is that they are really just not that different. I actually believe one of the most vital components of differentiation, is having a strong sense of self. This concept is true for people, services, products and brands. The most successful people and companies have a firm understanding that when establishing relationships, producing products, or delivering services, you must first understand what makes you highly desirable, uniquely obtainable, and economically irresistible.
It used to be that we differentiated ourselves through knowledge. Are you an expert or primary source of information for a product or solution? The reality nowadays is that you may feel like people and customers don’t need you for that anymore – there are always resources by which they can get information faster and easier.
So in today’s fast-paced world, how do we set ourselves apart? How do we truly differentiate ourselves? It comes down to the fundamentals of value creation and being closely tuned in to someone’s needs. These elements include being trustworthy, credible, and taking commitments seriously. Here are 4 ways to build on these elements of value creation to differentiate yourself for business and personal success:
Have you ever evaluated your ability to frame good questions? How often do you ask a simple question, only to get a one-word answer? Worse yet, do you ask low-value questions that do little to engage a person or prospect? Making interesting and thought-provoking inquiries help you to become a good conversationalist. Additionally, asking good questions makes people and prospects feel important – and who doesn’t love talking about themselves? If they don’t want to talk about themselves, here’s a tip… they are guaranteed to want to talk about their kids.
- Listen actively.
Depending on the social situation, listening actively can be a challenge. If you are in a crowded room with many talking at once, various tasks or distractions may pull your attention away. As often as possible, listening actively shows the other person that you are paying attention and that they are the most important to you at that time. It is also truly amazing what you can learn from someone by actively listening to the words and clues they leave behind. A wise tip that I have heard and taken to heart in regard to active listening is this – you were given two ears and one mouth, so use them in proportion.
- Take action.
Establishing a trusting relationship greatly relies on your ability to count on someone. If you promise to follow up, be sure you go above and beyond to exceed their expectations. Try not to fall into the trap of committing to provide someone with information or resources and then fail to respond or follow-up. Shirking commitments or making excuses for not taking action will not only hurt your relationships, it may leave you feeling regretful and unresolved.
- Believe and receive.
The final area of focus when it comes to differentiating yourself is believing and receiving. This is my favorite element of differentiation because it requires you to have faith in yourself and what you are doing. When you believe in your ability to help others, you will get back more than you could have ever imagined. I share an example of how this method of thinking became a reality for me in the last chapter of my book, Moving the Needle. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could help a dear friend accomplish her dream of having lunch in the home of former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. This story is just one example of how when I wholeheartedly believed I could accomplish something to help someone else; many others received joy, and the experience had an incredible impact for all. I know that this tactic can work for you too.
Think about the people and companies that you feel really stand out and differentiate themselves. Do each focus on the four elements discussed above? Start taking steps to determine how you can become more highly desirable, uniquely attainable and economically irresistible. These four guidelines are the stepping-stones for you to set yourself apart to obtain business and personal success.