What makes you different? It’s a good bet you’ve been asked this question before.

Prospects, hiring managers, and people with influence frequently ask this question when making a buying or hiring decision. Each day, we are bombarded with opportunities, advertisements, messages, and people trying to sell us something or to convince us to hire them. A hiring manager scans through hundreds of résumés, only to conclude that nobody stands out in the crowd. A decision maker sits through four presentations and can’t decide which service is the best fit. After a while, everything looks and sounds the same.

The average person is exposed to over 2000 impressions a day. During the last hour, how many of those impressions do you remember? In the last day? In the last week? Are there certain messages that stand out from the thousands of impressions, or do they all start to look and sound the same?

Companies spend tens of millions delivering these messages, some subtle and some not so subtle, every day of the week. A few of these communication methods actually work, but most don’t. What did you hear today that made you sit up and take notice? Most likely, you felt like that message was directed at you personally. Something was different in the presentation of the message that spoke to your needs, problems, ideas, challenges, and personal situation. Now, you want to learn more.

Let’s make this personal for you. What makes you different compared to the thousands of people with similar backgrounds, skills, and experience who are delivering the same message? You don’t have the budget to spend millions on delivering your message like big companies do, but you can stand out from the crowd. What are you communicating to people to get them to stand up and listen? Regardless of your profession, you are tested every day on your communication skills. Whether you are in an interview, sales presentation, or manager conference or are even just dealing with day-to-day issues, people will pay attention to you because you said something different.

Let’s take a look at three key reasons why people will want to sit up and take notice of you. These three reasons can work for you in any setting—an interview, a sales call, a meeting with your manager, or just plain small talk with your colleagues.

1.You offer ideas to solve a problem. We all have problems to solve, whether it’s making the perfect pancake or creating the perfect Web site. The message your audience hears loud and clear when you communicate with them says, “That will solve my problem.” Businesses large and small manage a daily set of challenges. It’s a good day if at the end, more problems got solved than didn’t. There’s no substitute for solving people’s problems. Any time you hear someone describing his problems, start thinking of solutions. Comments like “that’s a good idea” or “I hadn’t thought of that” indicate that you’ve made a special connection.

2.You fit in. While your experience, education, and other qualifications play a significant role, the hiring decision is still very much based on the personal opinion of the decision maker. He will decide whether or not to hire you based not only on your qualifications, but on how well your personality fits in at his company. Often, his instinct decides who will get the job or project. You don’t have to go through a personality transplant in order to deliver the message that you fit in. A sincere, professional conversational style is a great place to start: smile, look your interviewer or contact in the eye, and engage in a two-way conversation; listen carefully, respond thoughtfully, and don’t digress into personal details.

3.You bring value to the relationship. Think of the people in your life who you respect most and who stand out from the rest of the crowd. What happens when you engage in conversation with them? Chances are that you usually hear something of value. They go out of their way to listen and to understand your situation and offer a kind word, praise, empathy, a helpful tip, a great idea, or maybe just a shoulder to lean on. Conversely, think of people you know that drain your energy just by being in their presence. Most everything they say has a negative tone, and you have that heavy feeling after you’ve walked away from them. When you assess that conversation, you find that there was no value whatsoever for either of you. Putting all this into a business relationship, potential hiring managers can easily connect with someone who brings value and recognize those who don’t. In an interview, demonstrate your experience and knowledge as significant value to the team, and you will get the attention of the person across the desk.

Listen to yourself carefully now as you go back out into the crowded world. Put your words and actions to the test. Ask yourself if you’re thinking of ways to solve people’s problems. Ask yourself if you’re engaged in a professional and personable conversation that connects with your audience and if you bring value to every relationship. Don’t stop asking until you can honestly answer yes to each question.

Here’s to being that one in a million.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways.html

Author's Bio: 

Frank Traditi is the coauthor of Get Hired NOW!: A 28-Day Program for Landing the Job You Want, a motivational speaker, an executive career coach, and a small business marketing specialist. Frank has more than 20 years of experience in management, sales, and marketing for Fortune 500 companies. His expertise is helping talented people create an extraordinary career and teaching the one thing we never learned in school: how to market yourself. Learn more about Frank at http://www.coachfrank.com or http://www.gethirednow.com.