While there will probably be lots of things going through your mind when
meeting someone new, making sure you stand out might be at the top of your list — especially if your goal is to form a lasting connection. Let's say you're being interviewed, are out at a networking event, or mingling at a party. Standing out can help you get the job, make a business connection, or even snag a few new friends.
It might sound like a lot to ask of yourself, and even more so if you don't naturally know
what to say in social situations. But the good news is, there are lots of hacks you can use to your advantage. And most of them revolve around simply being present and having good conversation.
"Anything that helps the other person feel better about themselves will cause them to enjoy your company and find you hard to forget,"
licensed psychotherapist Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, MBA, tells Bustle. You might try asking more questions, truly listening to what the have to say, making more eye contact, and even saying their name.
It can all add up and help you to stand out, experts say, by making you feel more connected. Read on below for a few more tips to try the next time you're
meeting someone new.
If you want to stand out, "ask the other person about themselves and really listen," Jen Oleniczak Brown, owner of
The Engaging Educator, tells Bustle. This will not only keep the conversation going, but also help them to enjoy the convo more.
In fact, Oleniczak Brown points to a 2013 study from Harvard University, which showed that talking about yourself
releases dopamine in the brain. "Since people remember how they feel around a person more than what they say," she says, "it's smart to make them associate a good feeling with you."
There's also a good chance they'll simply appreciate the undivided attention, and being able to to share what's on their mind.
Mirror Their Body Language
"A proven tip that can connect people quickly is mirroring non-verbals,"
clinical psychologist Dr. Tricia Wolanin, PsyD, tells Bustle. "This may be taking a similar posture, or talking in a similar fashion with one's hands. Many times we may do this without even thinking."
But you can also
copy their body language on purpose, in a subtle way, whenever you'd like to stand out and be more memorable. It's a hack that's really been proven to work, and one that many experts use in social situations.
When you want to stand out, sometimes the best way to go about it is by
literally standing out with your clothes, which is why it can help to "wear a 'conversation piece,'" licensed psychotherapist Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR, tells Bustle. This might be an interesting necklace, a cool pair of shoes, a hat — really anything that's bright or unique.
It'll provide something for people to comment on, in order to get a conversation going. But it'll also help you to stand out in their mind later on, Scott-Hudson says, should you want to reach out again.
Come Up With An Inside Joke
"The best way to really connect is to create a mini-inside joke or remember something about them you can bring up with a smile when you see them next,"
life coach Stacy Caprio, tells Bustle.
Doing so will show that you were present and truly listening, which is something people appreciate. And if you have an inside joke, it'll add that extra layer of friendliness. As Caprio says, "They'll feel extra special when you do this and feel you two have a deeper connection."
In many ways, making eye contact is a "lost art," Dr. Wolanin says, since so many people these days are wrapped up looking at their phones. But if you're the one person who is present and connected, and
making good eye contact, you can really stand out.
Making eye contact has even been shown to
prepare the brain for connection, according to Psychology Today. Not only does it signal that you're paying attention, but it activates the part of the brain that aids in our ability to empathize.
Without even knowing why, the folks you're speaking to may feel a deeper connection, and remember you as a result.
There's a big difference between appearing to listen and
actually listening. And that's why the technique known as active listening can really come in handy.
"Active listening consists of
focusing solely on the other person, carefully listening to what they've said (not thinking of your next response), summarizing and repeating back the information, then asking questions," Susan Petang, certified mindful lifestyle & stress management coach, tells Bustle.
Again, this works not only because people literally feel good whenever they can talk about themselves, but it's also a great way to learn more about what makes this new person tick, Petang says.
"Active listening is invaluable (especially for people who are shy or introverted) at social gatherings, company parties, and events where you don't know many people," she says. "It can also be a great way to build relationships with new or potential clients if you're in a sales-oriented job."
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Have A Genuine Conversation
"When engaging in conversation, don't be afraid to put yourself out there and be who you are (even when that's different than what society expects)," consultant and
master collaborator Melissa Drake, tells Bustle. "Have an interesting or unconventional conversation and speak from your heart."
As long as it's OK to do so in the situation — you might, for example, not want to get too "real" in an interview — sharing what's on your mind can help you connect. And this is especially true in situations where small talk might feel draining, Drake says.
"There’s a reason the handshake [has] lasted this long,"
board-certified psychologist Shane Owens, PhD, ABPP, tells Bustle. And that's because, if done correctly, it can really cement an interaction into someone's mind.
"It is a sign of respect between equals, and a good handshake—
firm but not aggressive — will be memorable in a world where so many get it wrong," Dr. Owens says. So if you want to stand out, consider keeping a few of these tricks in mind.
"These work in all situations where you’re
meeting anyone new," Dr. Owens says. "Since there’s no way to tell who you might run into in the future — this could be a future colleague, mentor, boss, or partner — do these things all the time." And you might just form a lasting connection.