Have you ever stopped to think about what people remember about you after they meet you the first time? Is it something intentional? Or is it different for every person? I’ve spent a considerable amount of time “working” on my personal brand. I say “working” with a pretty ridiculous amount of sarcasm, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
There is a ton of content out there on personal branding and frankly there is some pretty decent stuff out there. But I have a short-cut to building your personal brand and it all comes down to one thing.
What Makes You Memorable?
Seriously, I don’t care what you want to be an expert in or what your specialty is. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you were memorable or not. And I have a little secret. Being memorable doesn’t come down to the words you practice for your speech, the great ideas in your blog posts or any of the other things that we think defines our brand. It comes down to what strikes people as unique and what stands out above everyone else in your space.
I remember in full clarity the first time I spoke at a larger social media conference. It was at the Inbound Marketing Summit in 2010. Believe it or not, Chris Brogan had enough faith in me to take a chance and gave me a speaking slot. (Thanks Chris!) I sat through a full day of sessions and got on the stage right after lunch. Needless to say, minds had been stretched to their consumption limits and I realized that I had to do something a little bold to stand out because energy was waning. The audience at IMS was a push the limits casual but insanely smart group. It had a big Freaks of the Industry-esque vibe to it. So when I got on the stage I opened up with “What’s up Biznatches?” which was paired with my black sparkly Converse shoes.
Now, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether “biznatches” was part of my personal brand or that sparkly Converse would become my standard shoes for speaking. It was a split second decision and it was memorable. To this day, people who were at #IMS10 still come up to me and say, “What’s up biznatches?” as their hello. Now, I don’t recommend this exact approach. I took a ton of heat at my corporate job for being off-brand, inappropriate, and you name it. They didn’t understand because they weren’t in that room. They couldn’t feel the vibe of the audience. Inappropriate or not, the audience thanked me for breaking the monotony.
And to be honest, I’ve never opened another talk that way. It was something that was uniquely triggered off of the vibe of that group. But I have worn a lot of sparkly converse. And it never fails that someone in the audience or on the social feed will mention them.
To the people at #IMS10 they remember me for that simple opening line. To people at various other conferences they remember me for my red sparkly Chucks.
This conversation came up because Ted Rubin and I were recording several episodes of our new podcast That’s Utter Nonsense (details coming soon) and we realized he is known for his crazy socks and people remember my sparkly shoes.
At the end of the day, you want people to remember more than your little unique thing. You want them to remember what you actually said, value your ideas and contributions to your space. But the funny thing is that while people may respect all of those things many of us need a memory trigger to separate you from all of the other people who want our attention.
So I ask you again, what really makes you memorable? That thing that stands out that immediately comes to mind when someone says your name. Or if they don’t remember your name they will remember instantaneously when someone mentions what made you memorable.
Now, this isn’t to say that you don’t need to work on defining who you are or what you stand for as part of your personal brand. But while you are figuring it out, perhaps start by picking something simple, something effortless that doesn’t require work. Something immediate and undeniable.
Sorry, sparkly Converse has already been taken. ☺
And then, how about just being you. Let your brand be YOU. Let the work involved in “defining” your personal brand be honing in on who you are and what you represent. If you can do that, the rest will fall into place.
So what makes you memorable? Leave a comment and share. Perhaps readers will give you an honest assessment on whether or not it actually does.