10 Ways to Crush It! Like Gary Vaynerchuk

by Ryan Rancatore

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Gary Vaynerchuk is half man, half legend, and half personal branding machine.  Yes, that adds up to 3 halves – but in this instance, it is still an understatement!  (If you aren’t familiar with Gary V, click here for his bio, or scroll to the bottom of this post to watch him in action.  Better yet, buy his new book, “Crush It!“. Trust me, it is worth the $12.)

Gary V is essentially a walking case study in personal branding success.  Using the tools that worked best for him, Gary transformed himself and his family’s business into a global, digital empire.  How did he do it?  Pretty simple, actually:

He out-worked, out-smarted, and out-networked his competition.

I can assure you of one thing – no matter the business you are in, or want to be in, you can do the same damn thing.  But it isn’t going to be easy.  Here are ten ways you can crush it like Gary Vaynerchuk, and start building your own empire today.

1.  Pursue Your True Passion(s)

In today’s age, there are literally zero reasons why you should do anything but follow your true passion.  Gary V is passionate about people, wine, and business development – he has managed to combine those three passions and make money with every single one of them.  Think you can’t do the same?  Nonsense!

Pick any niche, no matter how off-the-wall it might sound, and there is a community to be built around it.  For proof, check out what Melanie Notkin has done with SavvyAuntie.com.

2.  Listen  (No really…LISTEN)

Building a personal brand involves a lot of talking.  Writing blog posts, tweeting your opinions, giving speeches – talk, talk, talk.  But, how often do we stop to listen?  Gary V stops to listen all the time, spurred by actively encouraging folks to @reply or e-mail him, like here or here.  When was the last time you encouraged your entire set of connections to e-mail you with their opinion (and replied to every last one of them)?

3.  Take a Risk – Experiment With Tomorrow’s Tools

Google Wave

The next big thing?

Gary V had a video blog before most folks even knew what that was, and was crushing Twitter before I could pronounce it.  By getting in on a technology trend early, you can stake a real claim and capitalize on the boom (if it happens).  What’s the next big thing out there today?  Maybe it is FourSquare or Google Wave or one of these 8 Trends for 2010.  I don’t know what it might be, and neither do you.  But listen to your gut and take a risk – you just might strike gold.

4.  Stick to Your Strengths

If you asked Gary V to write your kid’s essay on The Great Gatsby, they’d probably end up with an “F” (and be expelled for the choice language within!).  Gary is no amazing writer, and he really doesn’t care.  He connects with his audience via video – because his passion shines through strongest with that medium.

What about you?  Are you a brilliant writer stuck recording Podcasts, or an amazing graphic artist writing text articles?  Nothing wrong with widening your skill-set, but the majority of your communication should come via your strongest method.

5.  Put the “Personal” in Your Personal Brand

All too often today personal branding is characterized by being a conformist robot (in a power suit) that is all business all the time.  Forget any of that crap right away.  The most successful business brands today are those with a strong, identifiable personality (think Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, etc).  The same is doubly true for individuals.

Deep down, people care about other people.  I care when Gary V tweets his heart out that the Jets lost.  Don’t believe me?  Try sharing 20 nondescript links in a row, and then send out one update linking to a picture of your family.  People will click!  And the next time you send out a link to your blog, you just might get a few more clicks there as a result.

6.  Work as Hard as You Can…Then Work Even Harder

I thought I was a pretty hard worker until I watched the video at the bottom of this post.  Then I realized – I AM spending too much time “watching F’ing Lost“.  Putting in 45-50 hours a week at your day job is good, and probably better than most.   But if you are reading this, I’m guessing “better than most” is not your goal. “Crushing it” does not involve a magic formula that equates to less work.

(The actual time of the day I finished this post.  Inspiration + caffeine will have that effect)

(The actual time of the day I finished this post. Inspiration + caffeine will have that effect.)

7. Forget About Pleasing All of the People All the Time

This is a tough one for some – myself included.  Gary V starts each episode of Wine Library TV with a high-energy, over-the-top introduction.  As he states in his book, he loses 12% of viewers right then and there.  But the other 88% totally dig it and keep coming back for more.

When you write blog posts, are you more worried about the 12% or the 88%?  Does one negative comment in a set of hundreds cause you grief?  The key here is to remember that some folks aren’t going to fall in love with your personal brand.  That’s fine.  Take it in stride, and get back to work connecting with the other 6.7 billion people who just might.

8. Find Your Audience Where THEY Live

Gary V is kind of like Visa – he is everywhere you want him to be.  It doesn’t matter if you happen to hang out on Twitter, in Barnes & Noble, on YouTube, in La Guardia Airport, etc…you can find him there.

You don’t like Twitter or Facebook, and think they are a waste of time?  Get over it. Your audience is there, your colleagues are there, your competition is there – can you really afford not to be there too?

9.  Meet People (And Not Just On the Internet)Hudson Hustle Tour

The social web is beyond incredible for networking and building a personal brand.  But let’s be honest, none of us can fully be summed up in 140 characters or by a static profile image.  The experience of meeting someone in person will never be matched by web interaction.

Gary V recently embarked on a maniacal, certifiably insane journey to meet people in person, during “The Hudson Hustle Tour“.  He flew to 6 airports in one day, just to meet folks along the way.  WOW.  My takeaway?  Even if you have a million Twitter followers and a throng of online connections, there is just no substitute for shaking someone’s hand.

It is easy to turn down those invitations to networking events, trade shows, etc – but is there more value there than you might think?

10. Be Patient

Now for the ugly truth.  You might follow all 9 steps above and still not be “crushing it” in 3, 6, or 12 months.  Neither was Gary V.  His “overnight success” took a few years to materialize.  In the meantime, his passion fueled the fire to keep video blogs flowing every day of the week.

Having patience in a Web 2.0 world is admittedly pretty damn tough. A new blog can be started in 15 minutes, and it is easy to expect an immediate rush of followers and admiration.  Not going to happen.  But I’m with Gary V…find what you love, do it every day, and do it better than anyone else.  In time, you will reap the rewards you deserve.

What do you think – are you “crushing it” today?  Has Gary V, or someone else, inspired you to redirect your focus towards your passion?  Let’s hear about it!

Gary Vee B/W photo by affiliatesummit.  Gary Vee book signing by TheFemGeek.

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