If you want to move forward in your career, in your educational journey, or with your business, there is one thing that will propel you forward more than all the rest—and it’s not your resume.
A lot of people spend a lot of time bolstering their resume. They get certificates, earn degrees and strategically map their journey toward success.
But guess what? At the end of the day, your resume is just a piece of paper in a stack of other pieces of paper (or a PDF file in a folder of thousands of other files.) And everybody else’s resumes has your skills, experiences and degrees, too.
So no, it’s not your resume that will move you forward or set you apart: It’s your recommendation.
It’s how you work with other people. It’s who you are as a person—and who you’ve proven yourself to be to other people—that is more likely to land you the position you want more than anything else.
As a speaker, the single most powerful thing that can get me in a room is a great recommendation. My network of the people and organizations I’ve spoken to is largely based on person-to-person nominations—those who have seen me speak, remember me and then engage me or refer me for an event.
While I won’t ever be able to guarantee that when the question of a speaker comes up my name will be mentioned, I can do everything in my power to make sure that I am memorable and recommendation-worthy.
And this doesn’t just apply to being hired as a speaker. It applies to when the promotion comes up—will you be recommended? Or when there’s a job opening—will your connections remember to consider you? If you offer a great service—will your current clients pass on your name?
If you want to be remembered favorably and then recommended for bigger and better opportunities, you have to do these three things:
1. Make your business relational rather than transactional.
Get to know the people you’re working for and with. I love this quote from Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
How do you make your coworkers feel? How about your clients or your customers? Instead of doing the bare minimum when it comes to courteously interacting with others, opt for phone calls, handwritten notes and special offers to make the people around you feel valued.
When people remember how you made them feel (and it was a positive feeling), your name will be top of mind when someone asks them for a recommendation
2. Do what you’ve promised, and then do more.
When I speak at a conference, I am there to present my keynote, which usually runs about an hour and a half. But I have never been at an event for just an hour and a half. Typically, I show up hours, if not days early, to participate in the event, meet with the leaders, mingle with the audience, and to really understand the culture I’m walking into.
It allows me to gain insight into the people I’m about to speak to, tailor my keynote to an organization’s specific challenges and make more of an impact.
Conventional wisdom will tell you to under-promise and over-deliver, but I think you should take that to the next level: Promise to be all-in, and then deliver on that promise.
How can you be more invested in your current situation? Should you be attending more meetings, following-up with customers, or proactively creating projects for yourself at work even when it’s a slow season?
Doing exactly what your job description says or delivering on exactly what’s in your contract means that you won’t get fired, but it also means that you won’t stand out for giving an amazing experience that people want to share.
3. Always, always say thank you.
I don’t care how big of a name you are: There is always a reason to say thank you to those who have chosen to bring you in and work with you.
Sending a thank you note or gift will not only show that you are grateful for their partnership, but it will also work as a physical reminder of you.
No matter how great you are, remember that your clients and your potential employers have options, and they are choosing to work with you.
It’s funny how that works: the more that you’re grateful for what you have (as humble as your beginnings may be) the more you will advance toward bigger and better things.
As a speaker and author, Curtis Zimmerman has impacted over one million people with his life-changing messages and award-winning programs. Curtis is an expert at transforming organizations by inspiring individuals to live their lives at performance level.
Want to be inspired? Check out his podcast The Next 24 Hours.