Recently in a basement parking garage underneath a hotel, my friend and I came across a vintage light blue Jaguar. Beyond the style and grace indicating an older gentleman owner, what was really interesting about this car were the books on display in the rear window – being shown as if it were a display case, and the car a used bookstore.
The books were clearly intellectual – one was published by the CATO Institute, another was written by Ayn Rand. There were six in total. A curious thing, having books deliberately stood up, clearly on display for an audience in the back of a car. My friend asked me why he might have them there.
I said, they’re his bumper sticker.
Everybody has a bumper sticker. It’s the thing you want to publicly display that tells people something about who you are. Don’t say you don’t – your bumper sticker is the funny saying on your t-shirt, the conference sticker on your laptop, the witty quotation on your website, the avatar on your Twitter account, even the color of the rubber skin protecting your Blackberry or iPhone. These are all signals to other people.
The man with the blue Jaguar displaying the books might seem silly, but he probably strikes up one conversation a week with a valet driver getting his Master’s degree, or the beautiful woman in the Whole Foods parking lot, or the professor attending the same book reading or wine tasting he is. Those conversations might lead to further networking, event invitations, and intellectual dates. This man more than likely uses his interests, skills, and creative nature to use his bumper sticker as a networking tool.
So many people are intimidated by using Twitter to meet new people, or going to a cocktail party or business networking event where they don’t know anybody. But there are even more creative ways to display who you are, and get people to approach you.
What’s your bumper sticker?