Before moving on to the contents of this article, I should start with an apology to my readers. I know it’s been a while since I last contributed here. Actually, about two months ago I wrote my last article. Truth to be told, it’s really hard to manage everything on your own, from freelancing to solo-preneurship, things aren’t just a play. I got myself an assistant to help me with the workload and make me more organized. I would be lost without her. I also got myself two more writers, I’ve worked with them in the past and they are amazing. Because some of my clients want copywriting services, too, that will save me from time to time: they write for others, I write for myself. Easy as pie with fresh eco raw strawberries, right? If you can find fresh eco raw ones, that is.
I’ve had two months to rethink the blog strategy here and re-launch it. So far, the blog has 25 email subscribers. I haven’t started any email marketing campaigns yet. I’ll wait just a bit longer, but not too long, so hurry up, guys, sign up below. 🙂
To resume the discussion, recently I’ve become interested in local entrepreneurship and how to make it in your own country, in the city you’re living, regionally, locally. I won’t be discussing about how that went/is going today. However, I will share with you how I managed to become a local authority and how I managed to position myself in the communities I am part of. With a key focus on the Entrepreneurs’s community known as OpenConnect.
What You can learn today from Me:
How to Identify the Right Community for You
Breaking the Ice: The Beginning
It’s Never Easy, But Don’t Be a “Community Drop-Out”
Sharing Value and the Costs
How to Be Present and Be Part of a Community
Making Your Expertise Transparent and Public, Plus Tips
Expectations Versus Reality
This entry goes to Friday Entrepreneur category. Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but let’s go with this, shall we?
Remember, opinions are my own, experiences are my own. If you want to share your own entrepreneurship trials and errors, successes and stories, you can shoot me an email and we can set up an interview and get it published here. Don’t be shy to comment, share, recommend.
Critique is more than welcomed if it’s related to ideas, not people. 🙂
The Steps In Building Local Authorship As An Expert
I have to warn you, becoming a local authority isn’t an easy task and it’s definitely not for you if you don’t have the patience. It’s an ongoing process, it takes time and it consumes resources (not necessarily financial ones, but mostly timely). I’ve identified 6 steps that are of most importance in this adventure:
Step 1: Identity Yourself with a Community
The best way to start is to join a community. Join a transparent community that encourages and shares the things you wish to focus on. In my case, it was entrepreneurship, working remotely, freelancing. After years of working remotely, with no colleagues and no office, I wanted to connect with people who were just like me: who had one or more online businesses, who worked from coffee shops, who managed remote teams, who were freelancers or entrepreneurs. I searched for a community, a place I would fit in without feeling like an outsider.
[Tweet “This was probably the hardest part: finding the right #community, the right environment. “]
Step 2: Icebreaker – The Tryouts
This one is all about charisma and it has nothing to do with expertise. You could be a total beginner, it doesn’t matter. What I noticed is how much pressure people feel when they have to talk about themselves to an entirely new audience. We tend to present ourselves in business jargon instead of making it look natural. I’ve been part of this community for over 1 and a half years. I remember the first time I joined them as if it were yesterday: I reached out for the mic and in 30 seconds I made it look like I was a real professional. However, I forgot the part that made me unique: my human part. I forgot to tell people about my hobbies or my interests. And that didn’t leave room for too much discussion in the networking session. So my advice: make it personal. Your first time presenting yourself should be mostly about you as a human being, not as a professional. Don’t insist too much on business, leave that for later. And don’t give up if your message doesn’t break through the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Remember, it’s a slow process.
Step 3: Repeat What You Sow
Be an observer at first. Notice what sort of ideas and presentations people react to. That’s the recipe for making yourself noticed. In order to succeed, you have to identify the community’s needs and answer them, as well. Then, once you identified them, get involved. Ask smart questions, on a given frequency.
[Tweet “Be present there 90% of the time. At every event. At every gathering. Online and offline.”]
This will help you capture the audience’s interests and attention. And be prepared for the follow-ups: once you ask a question or offer a potential solution to a member’s problem, there might be a second or third question. Engage this in a more private discussion, maybe during networking sessions or a private 1-on-1 meeting.
Step 4: Offer the Right Amount of Value With Little to No Costs
When you are part of a community, you are part of a family. And as in every family, each member has to contribute in order to receive. It’s a process of ethical giving and taking. What you primarily give is feedback and value and what you get is basically the same thing. Along with respect and smiles. 🙂 I remember waiting for 3 months before holding a mentoring session. It took me quite some courage to recommend myself as an expert in Internet Marketing and a mentor. I was nervous, I over did it, I wanted to share too much. I offered the wrong amount of Value: people weren’t ready for a technical language, for a SEO jargon or for a huge amount of information displayed in a limited time frame.
Advice: you should be looking at this with two angles in mind. First angle is the audience’s, who wants to get valuable information at little to no cost. Then, there’s your angle: you want to offer your expertise with little to no hassle.
Step 5: Being the Right Person at the Right Time
Engage. There’s no other way. Engage with others and engage yourself with others. When someone seeks advice or help, make yourself available, but not too available. Be there, offer a couple of tips, but don’t overdo it: you might end up giving them too much, much more than they need for now. Address their needs, but don’t go deeper than the surface. Doing it that way will make people take notice of you and see you in a different light. Remember: business isn’t always about making money, it’s about making connections, too. Money come and go, while most friendships remain. However…
[Tweet “You shouldn’t sell yourself as entirely free of charge.”]
Step 6: Transforming Yourself and Growing Inside a Community
This is the last step, to which I attribute a lot of importance. So you’ve made every step and graduated magna cum laude, but there is still a lot of work to do. We tend to want immediate results and ignore longterm ones. Instead of focusing on 12-24months goals, we set up goals under 30days. Which isn’t going to lead to longterm success. It might bring short-term accomplishments, but the overall package smells like frustration. I’ve seen a lot of disappointment in the eyes of some community members mainly because they focus on short-term goals and expect to see things set in motion in days.
Transforming Yourself: The Principles of Consistent Growth
As I said, you find yourself here: steps 1-5 accomplished successfully. On average, it takes about 6 months to get through 1-5 phases. Assuming you actually did every action stated above, let’s proceed to step #6. This Step is all about You, but this time, it’s not just presenting yourself briefly in front of a foreign audience. It’s about what you gave and took from the community in those 6 months. Imagine an axis from 0 to 10 (gotta love Likert scales) and position yourself on it after achieving steps 1-to-5. On this scale, Step #6 is rated 9 out of 10 possible levels. This sets the difference between men and little boys, between girls and women. Or should I say between Professionals and Amateurs.
So here you go, the Principles of Consistent Growth, as promised. Plus Tips:
- While it is human to err, you don’t want it to happen too often. Add weight to your words and don’t speak your mind if your mind is as empty as a bottle of beer. Nobody likes that, you know?
- It’s important to observe your audience before you give a speech. Our goal here is to make our message heard loud and clear, which means addressing real problems, real needs in the market.
- Whether you present yourself, your company or a new product, make it simple so that even a 5year old can understand. The KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) never fails, does it now?
- Whatever you say, make it interesting. The last thing you want is a bored audience. If you don’t plan on listening to me when I say don’t open your mouth every single time, at least make your questions, observations, interactions interesting.
- Make your presence unique. Customize your mentoring session, so that it reflects your personality. If the audience loves your personality, they will love your speech and vice versa.
- Make your personal branding memorable. Set up an example for others. Out-level yourself. Level up and bring the best out of yourself. But remember: don’t give it your all, it might look forced and unnatural. Just be awesome and have confidence. Nothing is more appealing than confident young entrepreneurs who believes in themselves.
- Always make room for a follow-up. You don’t have to offer everything to an audience. Select the most basic information, then spice it up with the right tips. That will make your audience curious enough to ask questions. And there’s another catch: after a presentation is over, take a couple of questions, and leave the rest for a follow-up networking session.
- And last, but not least, remember that your growth inside a community is influenced by the level of:
a) Trust you build;
b) Expertise you are consistent about;
c) Interaction with other community members;
d) Shared common principles and beliefs.
Expectations versus Reality
Some of the expectations and reality stuff has been covered in the last 1,900 words. However, I’d like to add one more. So we talked about what Step #6 is all about. It can take up to another 6-to-12 months to accomplish this step. And now You are on level 9 out of 10. So what is the next step to level up?
There’s one simple yet complex answer to that: It’s Business. Once you played all the steps, it’s time to make some business and actually generate revenue and income. It’s the most simple, natural yet difficult process of them all.
[Tweet “Money complicates things and it simplifies them, too.”]
So here goes expectations, reality and solutions:
Your Expectation. Yours is to generate income. In theory everyone would invest and pay and do business with you, since you’re an Authority. Reality however shows you that out of 100 people who say “I do” to your business offer, less than 10% enter the game for real and around 3% actually go through with it until the finish line.
The Community’s Expectation. Theirs is to receive increasingly more support from the Expert, from the Authority. In theory, everyone receives an x% of new skills and knowledge in a particular field free of charge. Reality however shows that you receive nothing new, since all the information out there is publicly available. The Expert just filtered and summarized it, and made it sound nice and sparkly. Because no actual business is done with the majority of community members, the Flow of Knowledge is superficial and mostly done in the name of Self Branding.
The Solution. It’s pretty simple: create group packages and group services. Don’t let money get in the way of actually doing business locally. On a local level, it is really hard to generate as much revenue as you do on an national/international level, where competition is higher, demands are higher, resource costs are higher. Combine the same service you’d offer to 1 client and make it a Shared-Service.
Which we will discuss in an upcoming article, explaining the Strategy and how it works. Until then, you can subscribe using the form below and get social with me. For any questions, comment below (I reply faster to comments than to emails).