I still remember meeting Christopher Higenbottam at a networking event some years ago. I asked what he did and he told me he is an architect. (Indeed it transpired that he was the MD of Tempietto Architects). We talked for a while about his work. After a few minutes I think I asked him whether there was anything specific that distinguished his practice from that of other architects I might know. I’ve long asked variations of this question when first meeting fellow professionals. And it’s an important one to be able to answer convincingly.
Most professionals, in my experience, fall back onto the hackneyed stand bys. They often talk about offering a ‘personal service’ (sometimes they even seem to believe that this is special, just like ALL of the other accountants, lawyers, surveyors who say the same thing). Other common replies, that also fail to make you memorable or distinctive, focus on other intangible service elements.
If I ask you this question it’s because I want to know what to listen out for when talking to people who might need your services. If I’m not a potential consumer of the services myself I want to know why I should remember and recommend you rather than any of the other accountants, lawyers, surveyors I have met. Knowing that a solicitor, for example, specialises in employment law is not enough. I know dozens of employment lawyers.
Equally, when you meet people at networking events you need to appreciate that they have probably met loads of other people who do what you do. I have addressed this need to STAND OUT and to be memorable many times on this blog.
So what did Christopher Higenbottam tell me that made him stand out? He focused on one element of his services – homes for individuals. I recall he talked about some special homes that he had designed. Then he did something no one has ever done with me at a networking event before or since. He pulled out his smartphone and showed me a short slide show containing 6 photos of beautiful homes he has designed. And guess what? I REMEMBER him.
This idea is not easily replicable by many other professionals. Few of us produce anything tangible and worth photographing. There’s little point in an accountant showing a few photos of a well bound and balanced set of accounts! I had a few alternative thoughts when I first shared this story. None of them serious. Perhaps you can do better? Do please add your thoughts as comments on this post.