While social media is touted to be the best medium to connect with your business circle, influencers, and other social media evangelists, somehow I still…
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Connecting with influencers is the most talked about topic in today’s online marketing cacophony. Small business owners, solopreneurs, sales and marketing professionals are constantly working harder and harder to make their voice not just heard but remembered – especially when the online marketing ecosystem is shaking things up in the realm of creating and curating valuable, impactful, and actionable content. To top it off, the attention span to draw more eyeballs for these professionals is very short and tough – yes, really tough.
It takes a ‘good think’ to actually build connections with influencers in your field.
- Understand you niche to the core. First off – before even you move the needle to connect with the key influencers, start to learn the ins and outs, the quirks and kinks of your business. To an extent, it is safe to make calculative assumptions in your business – well, that’s how you pivot yourself as someone who is precognitive enough to see what triggers could lead to bigger waves in your industry.
- Know your why. What is your why? Your purpose? Find out what drives you take your business to the next level. Your purpose propels you to keep marching on while your competitors are still trying to gain some ground. Sink yourself in your life’s purpose. And don’t question, just listen in to your voice – that wise soul – that will guide you to steer through every impediment that comes in your way while following your ‘why’.
- Carve your influencer landscape. Make a list of at least top 100 influencers you’d like to connect with and start perusing their social media presence, understand their passion points, their purpose and connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus from the get-go.
- Create your ideal picture of your influencers’ perception. This goes a long way in creating and sharing content that resonates with them. Actionable points: learn about what kind of topics interests them and what types of content they share with their audience. This way, you will start developing content that is contextual and relevant for your influencers.
- Start your own blog. Thanks to LinkedIn, now anyone can practice being an influencer via LinkedIn publishing platform. Or you can also start your blogging on wordpress and post at least once a week on social media. This will pave a way for your ‘gradual personal brand seeding’ for your influencers.
- Devour, devour, and devour. Read your influencers’ books and blogs, voraciously. When you visit their Web site, start understanding what services they provide, subscribe to the e-books and white papers, follow them on social media. Be curious to learn what sets them apart of the competition in your industry.
- Invest in their content. And they will definitely invest in you – only if you add value to their knowledge bank. Good starting points: guest-blogging or hosting a podcast interview wherein they share their experience and perspectives on topics that trigger their thought process. For this, follow step 6 – and keep following until your live, sleep and breathe their content.
- Craft e-mails, say, ‘from one storyteller to the other’. Make it sound conversational; a genuine interest to help them, even when they are on top of everything in their business. Your gesture in learning intensely about them will please them to share their experiences with you. Connect your pain with theirs – that way, you will connect your personal story with theirs whilst bridging the divide between what they were and what got them here.
- Stand for who you are. You have to sound edgy, sometimes controversial, sometimes a little quirky or maybe sometimes when you touch a topic which hasn’t rung yet in your niche. Good starting points: study your industry’s research reports, read books unrelated to your field (that’s right like fiction, magazines on general topics, etc), and then read books in your field – that way you draw many tangents to the discussion topics in your niche. This draws influencers to your disruptive mind.
And while you are already following these steps, over a period of time, depending on how hungry you are to make your mark in your niche, you might just wake up being an influencer!
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Well – I know when you read this title, you probably feel a little hard-pressed to read this post. Why? I understand: because you know…
In reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, I came across this much articulated word – Jungle Gym. It is the unexpected transition; an anticipation; innovation; disruption; a kind of quest for being different; a stress-fully packed journey that leads to (or facilitates) disruptive results. And how apt it is both for describing career and sales!
Consider following a linear career path – say, starting as an Account executive in a PR agency and then becoming an account manager or a marketing manager for a fortune 500 company – or consider following some kind of a creative exploration (a Jungle Gym) – say, starting as an Account executive, and becoming a business development manager for an architecture company. Well that is what I am talking about.
Gone are the days when you are a conventionalist and don’t want to disrupt your status-quo and staying in some kind of comfort zone – without being triggered by how people are transitioning to a more ‘unconventional’ convention of being themselves over a drudgery filled ‘jobosphere’ and non-creative – and ineffective – sales strategies. The common metaphor for career as a ladder no longer applies for the workers in today’s day and age. The reason I like the metaphor ‘Jungle Gym’ in this book is because, for women (especially), the ability to navigate some detours, deadlines or new accelerations provides them a better chance of contentment. Versus a metaphorical career ladder, where you are just constricted to moving either up or down – and that’s it!
Think of sales for a minute: moving laterally is the rule of the game today, if you want to be a good salesperson. Or wait- let me just change this term into a ‘problem solver’. So how do you solve a problem? Hoe creative can you get in solving that problem? Only by looking into decision makers’ profiles on LinkedIn and following them on Twitter? Or you go a step further and understand what stage of sales cycle is the buyer into – and how much more informed you need to have, to be able to decipher buyer’s apprehensions, status-quo and information consumption? Merely picking up the phone and having a compelling voice with some snippets of information to bowl over the prospect – though effective in some cases – is plain convention we have been following unconsciously even today. Despite of knowing how bozo we sound, we still kind of don’t do the hard work, true?
Now just think a little differently – like a Jungle Gym – where you creative potential is unlocked by, say, by setting informational interview with a Gate Keeper or a potential vendor or maybe an employee who is working for the company where you are planning to deliver your much prepared ‘sales pitch’. You need to be a Jungle Gym today, to be able to pick the not so associative cues from your environment and plug them into a new, creative sales pitch, and have an insight-packed conversation, which serves the bigger picture of your business goals – goals that unleash the dissonance of disparate cues – both for your career and sales targets –and weave them into a compelling story that connects from the get-go. Now some of you may not just write goals, thinking specificity does not always yield results. So I have good news for you, you can always have a vague goal that can provide you with enough gusto, creativity, and a direction to move toward! The only goal is not to be goal’less’ – be it specific or vague.
If you have read my post on how being disruptive can make you successful, this is an extension of my insistent belief of being ‘you’ in this competitive Jungle Gym, to be different and stand out from the competition.
So my earnest piece of advice: let the muse flow. Don’t fret from where the utter cogitation is emanating from; believe in connecting the dots – and you will see the learning pattern and creative juices flowing in your mind from places and spaces you never knew existed!
Think different; fail; fail more; learn faster; and succeed in this Jungle Gym!
My favorite example of a person keeping a journal and succeeding in his profession is Robin Sharma. I have subscribed to his mails and videos…
I came across this term while reading Whitney Johnson’s write-up on ‘disrupt yourself’ – and simply stunned by its very relevance even today.
Companies advance by being disruptive; well, we have kind of heard that time and again. But have you ever wondered how being disruptive can make you stand out from the pack of cut-throat competition?
For me disruption is innovation + acceleration + advancement = excellence!
And, trust me, being disruptive is a skill that some people innately understand, and some people just trash it, considering it as an euphemism of being confused and irrationally exuberant.
But that is not quite true. Today, when we are faced with a storm of entrepreneurs and working professionals chasing their dream of making it enormously big in their respective career and businesses, disruption will be a separate subject of learning for companies and individuals. And while this seems daunting, people love the chase –the challenge – the plunge of being different.
Here are some reasons that underpin the very significance of disruption.
- Makes you phenomenally creative. When you take the roads not traveled – especially in your career – transitioning from one job to the other, or if you are an entrepreneur you navigate with a rationale of treading the uncharted territories to explore a new career or a new business wavelength, you can apply your right brain in understanding the underlying pattern of your true calling. Your creativity will reflect in how you can transport the key learning of your past experience in something which is not seemingly connected to your future career path.
- Makes you a great storyteller. So: who is a storyteller – and a true storyteller? Someone who can connect the dots of his past with his present – and carve a vision that connects with his deepest purpose; someone who can weave words that spark emotion and moves a person, seamlessly. So what better than having a disruptive mindset? Say, if you can explain why being an investment banker in Wallstreet made you a great writer who can explain how businesses rise and fall and how you eventually landed up started your consulting business of advising young entrepreneurs how to make money for your passion, then you really know how to disrupt yourself. Or let’s make this even more disruptive, how being an accountant made you a time management coach and eventually a top sales rep of your company – yes, that’s what I mean.
- You will be an entrepreneur. You like it or don’t, you will be – if not an entrepreneur – you will be highly entrepreneurial. Why? Because you can synthesize your learning of being in different industries and monetize your idea for niche that perhaps is discovered by a vital few.
- You will never – ever – give up. Somehow I think Richard Branson is a befitting example for this trait. We all are familiar with his story of being a successful billionaire with not-so-successful journey he had in the initial few years of his entrepreneurial journey: he had 14 failed businesses in over 100, and was quoted as saying, “businesses are like buses: there are always one after the other.” His book ‘Losing My Virginity’ can help you understand disruption from both personal and business standpoint – and how you can launch your own business just like how Branson launched the Virgin brand.
Lesson? Follow your passion, even if you feel it is not something you have not done in the past, but your true calling is in exploring until something settles and gives you that peak of contentment, which is unmatched.
Be you. Be disruptive.
The moment your boss tells you to present the next quarter’s marketing plan, you are jittery, nervous, and plain anxious. You have seriously no clue how you are going to present the plan in front of your top management – especially when you know that your promotion and recognition depends on it. So what is that one definitive way via which you can start getting better at your communication skills right from the get-go, even before you are given such momentous opportunity to present and speak in front of an audience?
Simple: start reading a book ‘aloud’ for at least 45 minutes daily.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, How Reading Is a Reflection of Your Career Success, that it is extremely important to be keep learning to stay afloat, but most of us just happen to glance through a piece of content on the Web and think this will steer us through important meetings and presentations.
Right? Not quite.
You have to be a dense reader – and reader who reads aloud, from cover to cover. That’s right: when you start reading a book aloud, you develop more confidence on the correct usage of words, pronunciation, emotional articulation, and overall delivery. You will discover your pace, and increase your power of discerning when the sentences are too long or short, or in case of any grammar or punctuation errors, which your brain skipped when not reading aloud. Over a period of consistently reading aloud, you will understand yourself and develop a personality you want to become.
Back in my college, we were given topics to present in front of the whole batch; one of the topic was to give a presentation on a book – Naomi Klein’s No Logo. I was really fidgety at first as the book was really dense and words were completely alien to me: a tough read. But I kept practicing and practicing aloud in front of the mirror, or just sitting at my desk, and I read every word, made notes, created sections and started putting them into slides. Well, initially it was daunting, but when as the presentation day approached, I nailed it!
Lesson: You have to work harder and outwork everyone else when you want to sound a world-class communicator. And in time you will realize that you really don’t have to push yourself that hard when you start communicating like a true professional – it will become so ingrained in you like a part of your DNA.
To some it maybe a little bit too much since many of us not paperback readers, well, to that I recommend you start small and then go intense. You can start reading your favorite blogs aloud, and once you get the rhythm of your speaking, go for the real-deal books that can nudge you to more versatile side of your communication.
And more thing: if you want to see the improvement in your speaking skills, record your voice, from the first time your started reading aloud to the next time –and you will yourself discover flaws that can be worked upon in subsequent practice sessions. Practice, practice, and practice.
Today, it’s not just important to be a content consumer and internalize; you have to manifest your content consumption into words that spark more connections, more business – and most importantly, impact your audience in ways that they just can’t afford to forget you.
Think of Ted Talks, whoever presents on this platform works so hard, prunes unnecessary words and intonations to make their oratory so powerful and engaging. This skill is the number 1 criteria to land your dream job, or nail that client pitch, or present a book you just authored. And no, it’s not just for salespeople to master this skill; it is equally important for book keepers! Why? Because even they present the financial reputation of the company top their stakeholders – so, yes, start working on your oratical skills (irrespective of your role in your company).
Do you read aloud? If yes, do share your experience. And if no, start now!
And see the difference.
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