Career Need a Boost? Give ‘Em Something to Talk About!

by Lennon, Dawn Monday, November 15, 2010
Contact Us
Des Moines, IA
phone: 800-984-3775
Send email
About Us
It’s easy to feel lost in the crowd these days. We’re often smothered in a crush of candidates for jobs we want or sequestered among a sea of cubicles. The pace of the daily grind makes face-to-face contact with our bosses brief and infrequent.

Feeling faceless is dispiriting. It’s important to be seen. Acting out, complaining, or decorating our cubicles like Mardi Gras take us down the wrong path. A better strategy is to draw people to us because we’re interesting.

No need to read the Great Books!

When I work with clients on their job search, stalled careers, or growth strategies, I always ask, “What are your interests?” Too often they look at me like this is a trick question.

Your “interests” are priceless conversation ice-breakers that showcase your other side. They might get you an interview, a meeting invitation, or a sales order because the person you’ve been talking to is also a hiker who never met anyone who’d climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, until you!

Being interesting makes you memorable. It helps you stand out from other candidates, your coworkers, and your competitors if you’re a business owner.

But here’s the kicker: You don’t have to be the most interesting person in the world (who may or may not drink Dos Equis!). You just have to share an interest that engages the person across the table or in the corner office.

Our interests can enhance perceptions about our value to the organization since they show that we:

-Explore new things (innovate)
-Expand our skills and knowledge (develop)
-Challenge ourselves (take risks)
-Expand our associations (develop relationships)
Our interests are often the perfect platform for opening up conversations with people who may not, otherwise, be inclined to talk with us. At work, that can have huge benefits.

To be interesting, be interested

You don’t have to do anything spectacular to be interesting. Just do something that gives you energy, something that excites you.

Here are some interesting people I’ve known who may mirror or inspire you:

~Chad, a background investigator of employees needing corporate security clearances, is a precision stunt driver for major motion pictures, working with actors like Ben Affleck and Nicholas Cage.
~Ricky Bell, a computer support consultant and technician, is a guitarist, singer/songwriter who also performs as Elwood with The Blues Brotherhood tribute band.
~Renae, a corporate audit manager and CPA, does greyhound and Labrador retriever rescue work, spending one week annually volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah.
~Jennifer Gresham, a PhD biochemist and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is an award-winning poet and blogger.
~Ron, a high school band leader, is an expert bird identifier, also able to imitate scads of bird calls, who participates in an annual bird census.
Then there’s me: Teacher turned corporate manager then consultant. For my part, I can’t begin to tell you what being a thoroughbred racehorse breeder and owner did for my “are you interesting” quotient.

Doing something that was unexpected made people curious about me. I got questions about what it takes to deliver a foal, train it and get it ready to race. People asked about jockeys and trainers, claiming and betting (I never did much of that), and being in the winner’s circle.

Horses and racing were a mystery to the people I worked with and an industry few understood. All of this gave me unique insights and experiences that enriched both serious and casual conversations with colleagues at every level.

Now, it’s your turn

If you haven’t tapped into your interests until now, there’s no time like the present. Any interest qualifies: collecting, sports, the arts, specialized knowledge, travel, service work, anything you can think of. Pursue what’s in your heart and let the momentum take you forward. Then enjoy the ride!