I treat nearly everything I do as a test or social experiment of some kind. Particularly with personal branding, I am always experimenting and implementing new ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve got a few new tricks I’ve successfully tested over the last 8 months.
Here are 3 incredibly simple Personal Branding hacks that always work for me:
1. Make your bookmark your business card.
No not that PornHub page you bookmarked. Not that kind of bookmark. Your book bookmark. You know, BOOKS--those clunky things filled with words that contain knowledge? Yeah, those things.
Instead of your Barnes & Noble receipt, a wallet sized photo of A.C. Slater,
or a real life sized Kevin hart (dude is tiny!), use your business card as your bookmark. Throw your book in your bag, and you always have at least one business card on you. If your card is oriented vertically, you can even position it so your name sticks out of the page. When your book is set down on a table, it can stir intrigue from those around you.
Just last week I struck up conversation with someone on the train who happened to work at the company where I taught a personal branding workshop earlier that day. He wasn’t in the office that day so he missed the workshop, but we chatted and I was still able to give him my info because the book I had in hand had my business card between pages 117 and 118.
- Does not work with e-readers.
- Reading means less time for Snapchat.
- Never be caught without a business card.
- Get caught READING in public!
2. Ask people what they are struggling with.
I’ve concluded that the absolute worst question to ask someone is, “How can I help?”
When someone asks me how they can help, my mind goes into, “Oh gosh, ummmm, geez what do I even need help with? Should I ask them to water my Eucalyptus plant?! WAIT--I don't even own a Eucalyptus plant!”
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Not a lot of things give me social anxiety (extravert advantage), but asking me how you can help is one of them.
The bottom line is 99% of the time people either don’t know what they need help with, or don’t know if they are allowed to ask for help.
Instead, I have found that one of the BEST questions to ask someone as they introduce themselves and they tell you about their career, their entrepreneurial venture, their project, etc. is, “What are you struggling with?” (Another way to phrase it is, “What’s your biggest challenge right now?”)
People may not know where they need help, but EVERYONE knows where they are struggling.
This method gets someone to open up to you, forming an authentic and honest relationship, and gives you an opportunity to provide immediate value. You may have advice, a suggestion, or a contact you can put them in touch with. And if there truly is no way you can help them, people at least feel better getting some shit off their chest.
They’ll remember you as someone who cares.
I ask people what they are struggling with all the time and it’s led to introductions that benefited them, tuning them to helpful resources, and even brought us new students in our workshops and classes.
You don’t forget the people who help you.
- Engage in real human conversation.
- Take genuine interest in another person.
- Provide immediate value to people you meet.
- Form honest and authentic relationships.
3. Wear an article of clothing that speaks to the weirder sides of you.
This one I have a love/hate relationship with.
Why? Well, oftentimes I go to networking events, conferences, etc, wearing a blazer and a wrestling t-shirt.
LOVE = I get to wear my wrestling t-shirts outside the house at professional events.
HATE = I spend more money on wrestling apparel as a result. :)
I was at an event several months ago wearing this shirt with a blazer:
This is a shirt featuring a WWE wrestling group called “The New Day”. At that event, I kid you not, 7 people spent 30 minutes trying to figure out the nuances of the shirt (“Is the unicorn blind or just an artist wearing sunglasses because they are in outer space???”), and I got to explain The New Day to them. THAT’S a conversation I want to be part of!
Too many people think they have to put on a certain image or look.
Now, obviously, don’t be a bum. But take those events, those conferences, those coffee meetings as an opportunity to show people what you care about. Whether that means a shirt, a wristband, your sneakers, or otherwise--whether it’s your love for wrestling, Breaking Bad, running, yoga, or Captain America, give them a window into your weird.
You’ll strike up more of those real and authentic conversations. People will get to know you better personally--not just as your job title. And what usually happens is they have a weird thing they care about and you form a common bond over your weirdness.
- Look different from everyone else.
- Strangers are genuinely interested in you.
- Put personality into your appearance, confirming you’re not a robot.
- Form common bonds over shared interests.
Have you tried any of these? What other Personal Branding hacks have you used before? Leave a comment below.
Take care and be awesome today,
written by Rajiv Nathan