I have a modicum of online reputation with the people who matter to me. I also have search locked down. It’s not the result of being on the web since 1993 either, it’s because I keep a core business and do just about everything else to build my reputation, to build my name recognition, to build my brand, and to really let the world know not only what I am selling but what I actually know and can do — for free.
I received an email from someone recently who told me, “I don’t work for free. I’m sure you don’t either.” Well, yes, actually, I do. And successful businessmen have “worked for free” since the dawn of business.
Traditional entrepreneurs, salesmen, and business owners have always served on boards, been members of clubs, non-profits, joined fraternal and sororal groups, faith communities, churches, conferences (mostly paid), have taken lunches, spoken at high schools, colleges, at the YMCA, and even volunteered to sit at fold out tables in order to hand out alumni information on behalf of their alma maters. And if you don’t then you’re a moron.
This list is not comprehensive. Actually, there were a few more in the list but I just ran out of time (I actually didn’t need to tell you that but I am working hard at being open, transparent, and knowable, and so should you, too).
Open Your Kimono!
You’re probably not a genius so you really need to get over yourself immediately. All of your black box proprietary “solutions” are probably commonplace and all that time you spend appending ™s and ®s everywhere is time better spent actually innovating, sharing, growing your audience, training up your future interns and employees, and actually letting people know what they’re paying for rather than trying to guess the card you’re holding. Show them your hand!
The majority of customers and prospects aren’t trying to figure out how to do what you are, they’re trying to find someone they trust, can afford, really like, and who can do it for them. You need to be that person and that person reveals himself through being accessible, understandable, available, and knowable. This is true whether you’re just selling yourself, Chris Abraham, or your company, Gerris Corp.
“But what about all my competitors? They’ll steal everything from me!” Really? I guarantee that the vast majority of your so-called competitors don’t even know you or your company exists. I used to be a professional photographer back in the transition from pre-Web to the Internet Age and the shooters who refused to put their images online were always the mediocre talent. Artists want to make art! And you should really want to do what you do (and if you don’t, if you don’t feel a vocation, you either need a reboot or you need to change focus and find that thing).
Hold A Class (For Free)
I have done free webinars for years. They only take an hour or so to deliver and drive me to create high-quality assets and training materials that I might not get to until compelled by an actual speaking opportunity. I have been lucky as other folks organize, promote, and produce the webinars I do but webinar software is cheap and easy. And, I can do presentations on anything I like, really — well, anything I am known for doing professionally. But there’s a lot of room for creativity.
Sure, it takes forever to put together the first deck; but as you go, it’s easier and easier. My webinars generally deal with social media marketing, online reputation management, search engine marketing, and blogger and influencer outreach. So, 80 percent of my content is reusable once I have done the first one of each. I refresh, customize, rebrand, and reskin them depending on for whom and to whom I am presenting. Easy.
Bonus: I have new content for my YouTube Channel and Slideshare collection every single time (and Slideshare is LinkedIn and YouTube is Google, right?). Double Bonus: I get a list of all the people who signed up for and attended every webinar I do, including name, affiliation, contact info, and email address. It’s an amazingly convenient way to prospect my future employees and clients by using Oprah Winfrey‘s Law of Attraction. So worthwhile, even if there are only 50 or so attendees, there are generally hundreds of registrants; and, if you do a lot of webinars, those numbers add up, especially if you work those lists through your sales channels.
Be Ubiquitous (For Free)
Honestly, write a check to KnowEm and lock all of your social media profiles and domain names down. But that’s only the first step. I won’t go into it all now but social media engagement is not optional anymore, it’s de rigueur. I have so many SEO clients who are scrambling because their once powerful and influential sites are stumbling and ceding ground because they have not spent the sort of steady, consistent, time and attention on social media profiles they might have set up years ago but have allowed to become their social media zombie army at best or a social media ghost town at worst.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Go To A Conference
So many people (like me) only attend conferences if they’ve been invited to present, teach, or speak. There are really so many valuable conferences to attend so choose one or more in 2015 — not only for what the conference is about but also for the sort of people you’re likely to meet. The magic at any conference is at breakfast before, in the hallways during, maybe at lunch if you’re bold, and at the hotel bar in the evening.
Don’t sup on a lonely club sandwich in your room at night, join new folks or hunt down people you’re connected to via Facebook or Twitter and either tag along with them or be a hero and make some magic happen yourself and show them a good time. Hey, I have never been “asked out” by anyone who has attended a lecture or keynote I have given at a conference (I like to think it’s because they’ve assumed I was busy and not because I was super-lame) so if you see Chris Brogan or Geoff Livingston up there, see if they might be free for a drink or even to grab a bite before they fly back out.
Attend A Happy Hour (For Free)
Groups like the Social Media Clubs around the country and world are always hosting cool things, a lot of them are in the form of happy hours. DC PR Flacks are always hosting something in my town. There are a million of them. They’re hit or miss. They’re almost always worth it. Don’t go to collect cards, go to make one friend. Plus, you don’t have to stay long and (and this is a great secret) you don’t have to spend any money (you’re not compelled to drink, this is not a comedy or a jazz club, there’s no 2-drink minimum). Explore MeetUp, it’s a good place to start.
Do A Blog (For Free)
Before you start, blogs are like anti organ rejection drugs: once you start you can never ever miss a day for the rest of your life. But, other than that, have fun with it. It’s very rewarding, unless you consider it to be a life sentence, hate writing, feel oppressed by the very idea of it, or just fancy yourself too important to keep a blog (isn’t that like a diary?). If you have the resources, you can outsource the daily writing and population and just be the director. That’s just what Robert Fardi does with his gorgeous blog over at Insights by Unison; or, suck it up like Mike Moran does (he still writes all the time) but also recruit lots of adoring, loyal, and free writers like me to pad the rest of the week. Wink.
Do YouTube (For Free)
I am not a role model for this. While my YouTube Channel may very well have 923 videos, 3,454 subscribers, and 2,016,704 views, it’s an amalgam of travel memories, motorcycle rides, and webinars. You want to come up with a plan. You want to treat your YouTube Channel like you would your blog. I had it right at one point when I would endlessly create step-by-step desktop classes on how to do things in social media, tech, blogging, and social networking. I used Camtasia and took desktop capture videos of how to do things like blog on WordPress.com, TypePad, and so forth. WordPress.com – Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Blog has collected over 941,343 views over the last eight years!
If I were to do it all again, I would spend ten minutes daily reflecting on my day, my experience, and my perception of the day in PR, marketing, SEO, and reputation. Like parenting, it’s about always being there, over time, consistently. Over time, I am sure I would have spent that 10-minutes/day answering questions, responding to comments, things like that. My two YouTube heroes are Olga Kay and Hickok45 — seriously (what does that say about me?)
Do A Podcast (For Free)
Have a face for radio? With the success of Serial, podcasts are back, baby! Start simple, bad, and cheap. Even the best podcasts ever produced sounded terrible if their archive allows you to go back to the beginning. Even No Agenda sounded terrible 600 episodes ago — and both Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak are consummate professionals.
Start doing some episodes on SoundCloud and get a habit started. You can always buy the right gear, set up the right room, and “buy” the right podcasting platform once you get a habit started. I think you can even set up SoundCloud for podcasts if you start your show and then apply for SoundCloud for Podcasters. Other than that, Amazon has a lot of books on how to podcast. Even Podcast Answer Man seems like he has some solid info.
In Conclusion (For Free)
Just remember that Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, Google+, MeetUps, conferences, happy hours, YouTube Channels, podcasts, and even your blog, guest posts, and webinars are just modern extensions of the traditions schmoozing and community relations that your dad, grandad, and great grandad might have done at the Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, Elks, Rotary Club, their Masonic Lodge, at Church, at the bar, through the Chamber of Commerce, over dinner, drinks, lunches, breakfasts, by joining boards, playing squash or the good old business golf game.
If you think of social and online engagement and sharing as an extension of all of these things then it’ll make sense. And, if you engage in doing webinars or sharing your smarts on YouTube, on Podcasts, and on a blog (yours or others’) then your work will not be ephemeral like it used to be when your dad and mom spoke to their communities but you’ll be able to share your webinar, video, audio and textual content online with many more than just those 50 people who attended your event when it occurred live.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work. I had to wake up at 6:20 a.m. in order to get this post done today. Like training for a marathon, you make the time even though you don’t have the time. Make the time starting today.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Build Your Brand (For Free)
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