Expanding Your Network 15 Minutes at a Time

This year Sue has been using an old-fashioned method to expand her social network. Because she's doing it right, it has not only delivered results but it's been fun.

Any time she comes across the social media profile of someone interesting (from a professional perspective) she spends a little time learning more about them, then invites them to have a 15-minute phone call to get to know each other. She calls them "Getting to Know Each Other" calls. (I'm the writer in the family but since she pays my bills I'll stay out of her business.)

Yes, that's right, it's the old "Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" ploy, ruined by professional networkers a decade ago.

Here's how Sue does it right:

  1. She spent the time to develop a reputation for sincerity and generosity.
  2. She takes the time to get to know something about the other person, even interacting at their blog or other social media accounts, before she raises the idea of chatting on the phone.
  3. When she approaches them, she expresses a specific interest in something they do or offer.
  4. Wait, before that, she actually feels a genuine interest in something they do or offer. That's the whole point: they're professionally interesting.
  5. She uses a simple free tool called Calendly to allow them to schedule their call anytime she's free and which is convenient for them. No phone tag or endless scheduling emails.
  6. During the conversation, she actually listens to them, treats them with dignity and respect, and only shares what Ausoma does as something that might support their business. No sales pitch. Ever. (Did we get that part? That's what killed the "cup of coffee" gag, remember?)
  7. She keeps in touch, and when she finds something of value to them she shares it.

The theme there is generosity. People can tell when you're "having a chat" but it's all about you.

They can also tell, from a mile away, when you're a sincere and generous person who believes that the more you help others, the better your own business and life are.

By the Time You Finish Reading This Post 15 More Books Will Be Published

That unwieldy title is the fact behind yesterday's post about literary agents and your social media platform, and today's follow-up.

Depending on who you ask or where you check, each year between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published. That's more than one every minute, 24 hours a day.

If you only take away one thing from Sue's post and today's, this is it:

#1. If you don't stand out, agents, publishers, and readers will choose someone who does.

When Sue posted some of her thoughts from that blog post on other social media platforms, there were always a few who quibbled about how agents don't necessarily require this, that, and the other thing. Perhaps. However, see large note #1 above.

A second note which seems, still, to escape far too many authors:

#2: Publishers do not do marketing. Authors do marketing. If you won't, they'll find someone who will.

This shatters the dream of so many authors who, apparently, still hope they can simply write their book and have someone else do the hard work of earning the money for them. After all, writing a book is hard enough already; I know this well and understand the frustration of those who, having typed The End are dismayed to discover that it's just The Beginning.

If you're still secretly hoping someone else will make this easy for you, see large note #2 above.

A third note:

#3: Reputations are hard-earned currency. No one is going to lend you theirs without good reason.

Yesterday's post touched on the quagmire of guest posting. The entire point of guest posting is to share reputations, to find mutual benefit.

If you have a brand new blog about entrepreneurship, having Richard Branson write a guest post is a great idea, right? Doesn't hurt to ask, right?

What earthly reason would Sir Rich have to lend you his reputation?

Bringing it down to more realistic levels, what reason does mid-level blogger Jane Doe have to lend you their reputation, giving you access to their hard-earned network of fans? By writing a guest post for you, or allowing you to write a guest post for her, Jane is endorsing you, telling all and sundry "I trust and respect Billy Bo Bob Brain and you should, too."

Why would they do that?

Flipside: why would you do that? If you have a worthwhile blog and a total stranger, entirely unknown, wants to post on your blog, why would you share your reputation with them? Do you really want to publicly endorse the views and ethics of a total stranger?

A final takeaway:

#4: If you intend to sell your book or use it to promote your business you are not just an author, you are an entrepreneur.

You may already be marketing your business. Your book is part of your business, and you have to invest the same marketing effort and savvy as you would any other new product or service launched.

A solid social media presence is vital to getting noticed as an author and should be in place long before your book is published.

The Super Bowl is Over. Let's Get Back to Marketing.

Every year we notice a slump from the beginning of December through the weekend of the Super Bowl. In December, everyone spends their money on things other than business expenses. Then, in January, everyone stops spending altogether.

We've learned over the years that December is the natural time for us to spend a week off work, analyzing the year's activities, what worked well and why, and planning for the coming year. We set business and personal goals, then follow up all year long, monthly, quarterly, and again at year end.

We've also learned that expending effort marketing in January can be a complete waste of time—if we do it wrong. January is the time to keep it very personal, stay on people's radar, share freely, to make our marketing message "We understand you're not ready right now, but when you are, we'll be ready, too, and here's why we might be a good match when it's time." (That's not as succinct as I'd like.)

It's the Tuesday after the big game, and things are going to get back to normal. That means marketing can serve not just to stay on folks' radar, but to educate and attract, moving the right people toward our offerings, turning into the fun and games of doing business. (If you're not having fun marketing your book and your business, let's talk, shall we?)

4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve Them

4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve ThemAs a small business owner, you’re essentially writing your own paycheck. But that doesn’t mean you have an endless supply of funds anytime you need them. Instead, your earnings are dependent on a variety of factors, some of which are outside your direct control. So what can you do if you run into difficult financial circumstances? Here are a few ways to jump money-related hurdles.

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Success & Failure: 2 Methods of Each

For the team at Chief Virtual Officer, our Business Manager, Joel D Canfield, has created some videos. This is one of them. All about Success & Failure. Enjoy!