Last week I went to this presentation which was the beginning of a local interview series with successful entrepreneurs in town. The first guy on the list is a millionaire many times over, but he’s done it the unconventional way. In his life he’s owned maybe 20 or so businesses, at one time 12 at once but now is down to “only” 4. He hasn’t known anything about a single one of the businesses before he bought them, but learned early on that hiring people who do know about those businesses and that he could trust went a long way towards making them successful. And he did all of this without a college degree, and he still shuns, as much as possible, computers; doesn’t even own a cell phone.
However, he said his biggest boost comes from self promoting himself as often as he can. To whit, one thing he does is hands out at least 500 business cards a month. Now, this works out better for him that for most of us because on all of his business cards are at least two pictures of these custom cars he makes for celebrities and rich people all around the world, with the least expensive being sold for $90,000, the most expensive going for $300,000. I’d be handing out my cards at a rapid pace if I had that as part of my legacy also.
He also has two other things that most people don’t. One, he wears an ascot and always wears very bright colors. Two, he wears an engraved gold name tag with his name and the name of his most visibly prominent business on his jacket at all times. He said this gets people talking to him instead of him having to open up conversations, which then gives him a reason to pass his card along to them, and because of the cars he knows people will share the cards with others, and it’s possible that they’ll end up in the hands of someone who wants to do business with him. It certainly makes him memorable; no one who meets him forgets who he is.
It’s all about branding, and trying to decide how far you’re willing to go to brand yourself. I think about myself when this issue comes up. Online, I have articles of all types all over the internet, I belong to a bunch of online networking groups, and I have 3 blogs, yet I’m probably still not all that well known because, after all, the internet is in this big place called the world. Offline, I belong to some organizations that have the same people there all the time, I’ve been in some specialty magazines but those people don’t really ever know who I am, I’ve given some presentations here and there, but otherwise I might as well be called Anonymous, just like everyone else.
So, the trick for all of us is to determine how far we’re willing to go, and of course, depending on our business, just what’s appropriate to help us stand out. For instance, if you’re a lawyer, walking around in a clown suit may not get it done. But we all have to find our way of advertising ourselves if we hope to make it big in this world, especially if we want to work for ourselves.