We live on a planet with a population of more than 8 billion. And yet, there is still a sense of isolation and anonymity among us.
So what can you, especially if you're young and new to the workforce, do to stand out? To get people to pay more attention to you? To be well-liked and memorable? To cultivate your personal brand?
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Even in an ever-changing world, giving in to the pressures of a savvy social media presence or a shiny MBA isn't always effective. Sometimes, it's the old-fashioned and often forgotten practices that really work.
As a wealth advisor and grandfather of three, I've spent the past several decades building long-lasting relationships — both in my business and personal life — that have helped me maintain hundreds of clients from all over the world.
Here are three timeless self-branding tips that will help you become more admired and noticed in an increasingly crowded world:
You should always stay in close contact with the co-workers, bosses and professionals you worked with in recent years. But you may find greater benefits in going further back — to those you went to school with or even childhood friends.
Search your school's online directory for fellow alumni by class year, location and areas of practice. Update your own info to ensure fellow alumni can connect with you.
When my wife and I moved to a new town, for example, I checked my high school directory and saw that one of my classmates was the town plumber. I called him. "Is this Blake?" I asked. "The same Blake who used to help me in the 7th grade? Because I was useless."
He instantly remembered my name: "And you're still useless?" He joked.
Blake visited us, and because of our past association, we became No. 1 on his priority list whenever we needed plumbing help. I still send him a ham every holiday season to stay in touch.
People respond to earlier days and simpler times. Even if the years have separated you, they'll still put down a welcome mat. Making an effort to connect with those far back will spread your net, opening doors to other people of other professions who may help you in the future.
You can work around your deficiencies if you start to think more creatively about the areas in which you shine. Technology, languages, editing, drawing, music, business — your can trade your special interests and skills for help where you need it.
Branding is a mutual technique; it's impossible to build a brand and community of supporters unless the process is advantageous to both sides.
As a financial advisor, I offer my guidance not just to my clients, but to everyone who comes into my life. Writers, painters, actors, doctors, lawyers — people in virtually every profession need money management advice.
Having a specialty to trade produces all sorts of benefits, particularly in the interchanging of ideas and resources. It also makes you more interesting to others, and what you learn from them will help you develop knowledge in different areas.
Another perk: You can develop new, genuine relationships — and be seen as a real person, instead of just another co-worker or client.
It has to appear natural, not forced. For years, I've worn glasses with red frames. I like a bit of color and spunk in my clothes. Until the pandemic, I wore a bright suit, sometimes with a bowtie, to work every day.
You may think that's painfully old-fashioned and out of step. Not at all. Almost no one in my office building wore a suit and tie. It was my way of showing not just some personality, but also respect for my clients.
What you wear every day is a reflection of your brand. You must be able to advertise yourself without wearing a sign on your chest or a hoodie with your company's name on it.
But for the most part, anything that gives you an edge is fair. So if you couldn't care less about curating an original wardrobe, there are other ways to create your own quirky persona.
Years ago, I had a client in Boston who was a traveling salesman of corrugated boxes. He called on businesses all over New England, and every time he went cold into a potential client's store or factory, he'd bring Tootsie Rolls to the reception desk.
He also handed out business cards that read "Charlie the Tootsie Roll Man" beneath his name. It worked; he was a charming and likable salesman, and everyone remembered him because few could resist Tootsie Rolls.
He dared to be different, and it gave him an opening gambit that made everyone smile. With a little thought and ingenuity, you can do the same thing.
John D. Spooner is a wealth manager and best-selling author of several books, including "Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around?", "Confessions of a Stockbroker," and "No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Lessons to My Grandchildren."