As a thought leader, you may be great at telling stories through a presentation deck,…
As an author or thought leader it used to be that you were viewed as the expert and you honed your craft, published your books, did some public speaking and attracted followers. If your message was interesting, smart, innovative or engaging, people listened and they followed. And you wrote another book, spoke some more and they continued to follow you. Pretty straight forward…
In today’s world people don’t want to follow. They want to participate in the process, to be involved, to comment and create content based on your ideas. We’ve gone from the age of the monologue to the age of the dialogue. There are several factors that have contributed to this incredible shift in behavior – some are technological and some are simply a function of the human desire to be connected, to be part of a tribe or community, to be heard. No matter what the reason or reasons are for this shift, it has happened and as a result many of the tried and true models for attracting a following and for growing a content based business are no longer relevant.
You can no longer passively collect email addresses when you release a book, send them a quick “thank you” boiler plated response, ignore the reader for two years and send them an email when your next book comes out and expect them to respond. It no longer works, not even a little bit.
What you need to do today is develop a dialogue strategy. How can you develop a community of connected individuals, provide them with the information and tools to interact with you as the expert as well as with one another. Some of these tools are pretty obvious – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, etc., but they are merely platforms or tools to help. You need to devise a strategy that keeps you and your ideas and thoughts in front of the community consistently. You need to drip content across every medium imaginable and have a process that allows you to extract ideas, discussions and debates from the community so that it can be shared with everyone.
Yes, it is a bit scary and no you no longer have control over the messaging – you may even hear some things that aren’t glowing praises. That’s the point. A monologue goes one way, is not an open mode of communication and does not have the potential to engage people on a deeper level. A dialogue goes two ways, enables the other party to add to your thoughts, to disagree with them, to challenge them and to modify them. It allows an idea to flow, be refined, thrive and grow.
So how do you move your efforts away from the old ways and towards a model that creates an engaged community? It starts with a change in thinking, a change in strategy and ultimately a change in tools and tactics.
If you are sending out a newsletter monthly that’s quaint and not what I’m talking about. Are there Facebook Groups or LinkedIn groups devoted to your content? Are you monitoring the conversations that are occurring? Better yet, are you participating in those conversations? Have you developed tools to give to your fans that make it easy for them to broadcast the message? Are you asking them to create videos or blog postings to share with you? It’s a community of engaged, active, thinking, passionate people that you want, not a database of emails that has no intellectual or emotional connection with you or your work.
It is a bit scary and the tools may seem to be confusing or overwhelming, but you can either adapt or you can resist. You can cling on to what used to work or you can evolve and thrive. The opportunities that a dialogue strategy opens are vast and exciting; clinging on to the past may be comforting but ideas can be unleashed at warp speed today, great things and bizarre things “go viral” and many equally great ideas never see the light of day because they are not taking advantage of all that is available to help them spread.