Frances Cole Jones, author of "The Wow Factor"
Here's the thing: Sometimes we're selling our ideas, sometimes we're selling our products and, these days, many of us are selling ourselves as the best candidate for the job. With this in mind, here's the proven formula for selling your best self to anybody, anywhere, any time.
First: Yale University did a study of the 12 most persuasive words in the English language. They discovered that the most persuasive word in the English language is "you." Consequently, I recommend throwing it around a lot: "As I'm sure you know," "As I'm sure you've heard," "I wanted to talk to you today," etc.
Second: California-based social psychologist Ellen Langer says one word in the English language increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94 percent. No, that is not a typo. I will repeat: 60 to 94 percent. This word is "because."
Lastly: The Duncan Hines Cake Mix Marketing Theory. When Duncan Hines began making cake mix, the decision to have cooks at home add the egg was made in the marketing department. Why is this effective? Because they realized that when we add the egg, we feel proud because we contributed; we can say, "I baked!"
Following, then, are three ways you can apply this formula for success:
1. A job interview scenario
When you are talking to a company about coming to work for them, you need to articulate the unique contribution you can make, so it becomes your shared success.
Too often, however, we spend our interviewing time talking about why we are right for the job. What we need to be talking about is why the job is right for us.
What might this sound like?
"I wanted to talk to you today because your job description/your company's mission statement/your bestselling product is X, and my skill set/my personal passion/my sales experience is in Y. Applying the full force of my expertise to this job will enable us both to reach our goals."
2. Talking to your boss about a brewing situation
The use of the word "situation" here is deliberate. The White House doesn't have a Crisis Room, it has a Situation Room. Likewise, you don't have a crisis -- you have a situation that needs to be resolved.
So, what would the formula for success sound like here?
"I wanted to bring a potential situation to your attention immediately because it requires expert attention. X has occurred and I have come up with the following two possible solutions. Is there one that you prefer?"
In this instance, the egg is not as much the mention of the expert attention but the opportunity you are giving your boss to apply that expertise to two possible strategies. Having him choose which he prefers (and tell you why it's far better) not only allows him to add an egg, but to choose the temperature at which the solution is "baked."
Talking to a potential target at a networking event
Too many networking events are about what others can do for us, rather than what we can do for others. In my experience, however, the most successful networkers aren't asking, "What can you do for me?" but "What can I do for you?" In this scenario, the formula would likely sound like this:
"Hello, I'm X. I wanted to introduce myself because I know you are the visionary behind X idea/product/company, and I wanted to introduce you to Y/write about you in my newsletter/ask if I could help you organize your next charity event." (If your target is standing with another person or in a group, introduce yourself to everyone present.)
As you can see, the offer doesn't need to be huge; the fact that you made it at all is what helps you stand out. Leaving room for another person to add the egg of her choice is what will ensure your successful connection.
Frances Cole Jones is the author of "The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World." Her company, Cole Media Management, works with clients to enhance their professional and personal presentation skills. She lives in New York City.