What you can learn from Lady Gaga

1. Create an air of whimsy - but work your nipple-tassles off behind the scenes

Gaga may look like a fun-time kinda gal, but she's working her PVC-chappered butt to the bone in the background. She learnt to play the piano aged four, was performing at open mike nights by 14 and gained early admission to the New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She produces and plays various instruments as well as singing and dancing around provocatively, and has written songs for Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, and the Pussycat Dolls too. In short: she knows her trade inside-out, and that's because she's worked non-stop at it.

Big opportunities don't just land serendipitously in your bowl of cornflakes one morning - you have to create them by putting in the man hours. Know your industry like it's your best friend, get all the experience you can, and give up TV - you could be using those languishing hours to make your business a reality instead.

But don't let anyone know that you're putting in all that effort (apart from your nearest and dearest, whose Kleenex and shoulders you'll need to borrow from time to time). Don't whinge to your professional network, and learn to smile cheerily even when you're running on two hours sleep. This is an old Richard Branson trick as well as a Gaga one - making it look easy when really you're working incredibly hard. It works because people want to work with unstressed, easy-going, unfathomably talented people - and keeping quiet about how hard you're working while pulling off master feats creates just that impression.

2. Don't be shy about recycling great ideas

Lady Gaga has been compared to Madonna and accused of ripping off her style so many times that Saturday Night Live convinced them to appear together in a mickey-taking fashion fist fight while dressed in identi-kit outfits.

While Gaga's picked up a bit of flack from the die-hard Madonna fan contingency in obscure blogs across the world, most people have to admit she's done a ruddy good job of reincarnating the former Queen of Pop. And, let's be honest, it's been hugely to her advantage. Gaga might not have been half as successful had she not copied Madonna from time to time - and gained precious column inches from it. That said, she's not just a Madonna lookalike - Lady Gaga has differentiated herself musically enough that she's managed to become one of the world's most popular current pop stars, with Madonna in tow as a fan (rumours abound that Madonna wants Gaga to tour with her). And she's pushed the fashion boundaries that tads further too (see above).

Success isn't about doing everything yourself first time round - it's about using proven models and other people's ideas cleverly, and expanding on them. Take something that works, and make it better. Why wouldn't you? Doing everything from scratch is desperately inefficient, and you'll spend so long trying to reinvent the wheel that you'll run out of time to spot all the new applications of it that will earn you big bucks.

3. Publicise your business by being memorable

We don't need to tell you for the thousandth time that networking is one of the most important keys to unlocking your business' potential; that people do business with people; that a healthy cross-section of people in your little black book will give you unprecedented access to customers, partners, suppliers, PR opportunities and word of mouth marketing. You know that. Trouble is, how do you build that teeming network of people who are falling over themselves to help you?

The answer, improbably enough, lies in one of Lady Gaga's greatest weapons: creating a buzz around yourself. The more people talk about you, the further your name travels, and the further your extended network reaches. You want to become one of those people whose name always springs to mind in other people's conversations, so you get recommended and set up when you're not even there.

That means you need to be memorable and well-liked.

We obviously don't mean for all of you to go out in a dress made of sirloin steak, but you need to find a way for people to remember you. That can boil down to the kind of instantaneous self-branding that many well-known entrepreneurs have contrived (James Caan renamed himself after his favourite actor; Richard Moross of Moo always dresses in existentialist head-to-toe black; 4Networking founder Brad Burton used to carry around a pizza box with his branding on it at networking events). Read our feature on creating a personal brand for more info on that.

Or it could mean dropping in titbits about things you do and have done that mark you out (Shiny Media's Katie Lee has championed this with her unusual penchant for crocheting; others drop in titillating tales of trekking up Everest or becoming kickboxing champions - take up a weird hobby if you have to).

Or it could just mean being a super-connector yourself - the more you hook people up with each other, the more they'll want to return the favour (Oli Barrett is a master of this and blogs on it too).

Just make sure you have something - whether it's being hilarious, looking distinctive, or always being that helpful person on Twitter. And, of course, keep in touch everyone you meet and get on with on social media to keep you fresh in their minds and solidify fledgling relationships.

Then take every publicity opportunity you can: ask to be featured on blogs, find angles to get into the local papers and onto website, sponsors kids' football teams, organise networking events under your branding (like Huddle did), tell journalists you're available for expert comment, pitch ideas to magazines. (Read our guides on PR for more ideas.)

Beyonce et al fell over themselves to work with Gaga because she made herself hot news. Generate a similar buzz around yourself (albeit in a tamer, more friendly and less aggressively sexual way), and you'll find the movers and shakers in your industry might just open their doors to you too.

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