BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 21 NOV 2014


Do you know what you are known for, or what you want to be known for? Whenever I speak about networking and relationship building someone rightly says that it's about much more than a smile and a firm handshake: it's about your brand, your reputation. Getting your brand out there is an increasingly important online and offline activity. It's about being visible. But here is the question: what are you putting out there?

Last week I was in Munich for the first time in over 30 years. My room was atop the Hilton hotel, overlooking the English Garden. I was in the city centre twice at either end of a training programme, first to find a barber and second visit a Bier Halle. I really needed a haircut but don't drink beer, so I had a massive post-dinner Sprite on Tuesday night with my multi-national delegates while enjoying the crack and the oom-pah-pah.

I walked through the English Garden on Monday afternoon to have my salt and pepper mop cut by a Turkish barber found after 45 minutes strolling around, the concierge having pointed me in the right direction. Three decades ago I had just started getting my hair cut at Maison Ronnie in Glasgow and since then only three others have cut it (Carl Linich, the original Ronnie's son, is my barber of choice.) Two have been Turkish, as we all know they have a way with hair. I never doubted it for a second after seeing the shop and its environs: scruffier end of town, people queuing, nothing fancy. For eight Euros, after some sign language with the man holding scissors, my napper was neater. I drew the line at the hot shave with an open razor. When I told the concierge where I was shorn he said it was the place he goes, confirming my instincts.

In 1981 I stayed in a big tent with 500 others, where for a fraction of the price of a Hilton Americano I got a mattress and a few square metres. It was magical. Back in my Heaven 17 days I had an Inter Rail pass and before I arrived in Munich I knew about Oktober Fest while a picnic lunch on my first afternoon acquainted me with naked sunbathing in the English Garden: think people in the buff, lunchtime, in Hyde Park.

Such things stay with you. There was much nudging and winking with Germans about their English Garden and even if you are not a drinker they will take you to the big beer barn: don't ask for cider. During the business development programme we looked at influencing skills and I asked the participants to reflect on what they want to be known for: a specialism, a trait, something they do better than the average Bavarian bear. Because part of influencing is getting your name out, even when you are not present: How To Win Friends And Influence People When Not There.

What is your thing, the equivalent of the Bavarian's Beer? Do you have a risky one- dare I say a risqué one- like naked sunbathing in the middle of town? So often we talk about interpersonal or intrapersonal or emotional intelligence skills and we all have a range of transferrable skills that are, for sure, essential. But so is your specialism, a certain uniqueness that sets you apart.

Now you are thinking about naked Germans drinking beer and Turkish barbers cutting hair, consider your own thing: What's your specialism?

Find it, nurture it, improve it... then flaunt it.


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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