Pay attention to earn more attention

kelly on human attention
Creative Commons License photo credit: Will Lion

Today I wanted to do a bit of a reprise of an old post: Is your marketing both interesting and interested?. If you haven’t seen it then do check it out.

Anyway, the reason that I wanted to do this was twofold:

  1. Seth Godin posted this the other day: Interesting & Interested. I think it’s great when you see similar ideas talked about and spread by great commentators such as Seth.
  2. I was giving a talk (sharing a few stories) about networking to a bunch of entrepreneurs and professionals on Monday and we were discussing the best ways to network and build relationships. This is where the Interested and Interesting dynamic came up again most recently.

What were talking about was how to build better relationships with your network, your customers, your suppliers or partners and how you could combine offline and online activities and tools to help.

In his pithy post, Seth says that it helps to be both interesting and interested if we are to earn someone’s attention. But then goes on to ask, if it’s so obvious, then why is it so difficult?

For me, one of the key components to being interested in someone, such that you gain their attention and trust, is that you have to really listen to them. But, therein seems to lie the problem. if we think about how we are taught…….taught in school, taught how to market our businesses, taught how to network, as Martin Hill-Wilson across at BrainFoodExtra in his Customer Listening series asks:

“Can you remember ever being taught how to listen?”

It’s a great question and I’m not sure we are taught how to listen very well. Looking up ‘listen’ in the dictionary shows that a key component is ‘to pay attention’. Therefore, it seems that in order to earn attention we have to pay attention.

I mention this in my talk on Monday and a couple of the entrepreneurs and professionals piped up and asked for some tips on how best to do this. Here’s some ideas that I’ve used in the past that have helped me:

  • Whoever you want to build a better relationship with…… some research on them
  • Find out/Think about what they might need or what challenges they might be facing
  • Find, share or produce something that they will find useful and send it to them saying ‘I saw this and thought of you’ or “I saw this and thought you would find it interesting’
  • Ask their opinion on something and really pay attention to what they say, understand from what they say if there is anything you can do to help them further and, if there is, do something about it
  • Introduce them to someone that you think they would find useful
  • Invite them to an event that you think they would like.

Can you think of other ways to pay attention that has earned you attention?

11 comments On Pay attention to earn more attention

  • @martinhw Morning, just to let you know that i 'doffed' my cap to you in this mornings post

  • Great post Adrian,

    One of the benefits of attention is that a person changes gear from just hearing to fully listening. Not only is more of the ‘signal’ received, but it is also put into its correct context to make sense. Once that has happened, its significance, implications, call to action, implicit message etc tends to surface and come into view. Once that happens, you can make an appropriate response.

    So in answer to your question, I would say that a relevant and valued response which binds us closer to our networks begins with the working assumption that we fliter out 70% of incoming communication (in order to survive the din!). When someone of value appears put full attention (stop multi-tasking) on what they are saying and rest will fall into place


  • Hi Adrian,

    One key for me is the quality of questions asked to someone as a way of paying attention to them.

    On one hand is someone who asks a well-rehearsed question, because they are really looking for an excuse to tell you what they think make them interesting. (You might as well just switch to direct mail!!)

    On the other hand is someone who genuinely listens, asks a question that builds upon what they heard and probes more deeply. This fosters dialogue and often sets the stage for building a relationship.

    The difference is significant and the latter is someone who is likely to come across as both interested and interesting.


    • Hi Marc,
      I agree that difference is significant and listening by really paying attention is something that will set us apart and make us both interesting and interested.

      Given that, how do you think we can teach ourselves and others to be less selfish, put our agenda to one side and focus on the needs of others?


      • Listening is a learnable skill.

        Our motivation to listen is situational, context specific and is a multiplier on that level of listening skill we posses. No motivation to listen (because motivation is in other directions) and no listening occurs. Stimulate sufficient motivation to listen, within ourselves or within others, and listening takes place.


        • Thanks for that Marc. That’s an interesting extension of a line that starts with to earn attention, pay attention
          to pay attention, listen
          to listen, get motivated….

          feels like a reductionist approach that could lead somewhere meaningful?


          • Consider it a variation on that old rhyme,

            For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
            For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
            For want of a horse the rider was lost.
            For want of a rider the battle was lost.
            For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
            And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


  • RT @adrianswinscoe: Pay attention to earn more attention <Good Piece!

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