It is very important for speakers to stay connected with their audience communities and separately it is important for speakers to get their point of view and approach out so that new prospective clients can book speaking engagements. There are a variety of ways to do this, including writing a blog, sending monthly newsletters and connecting more often through social networking like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Writing a Blog
The speaker should write the blog or have a copywriter hired to do that. The VSA can edit the blog posting and distribute it through Facebook, tweet about it, or distribute it through a newsletter.
Blogs are immediate because they’re updated weekly, daily or even several times during the day, and some have a wide following. Regular readers can subscribe and be alerted to updates whenever they appear. Blogs can be customized, just like web sites, to pick up the look and feel of the author’s brand.
A blog is an easy way to write information of interest to the audience and make it available online. You can set up a blog separately or as part of a web site and there are a number of free services to help you do this. The one we recommend is at www.wordpress.com.
Once you create the blog, the next challenge will be to decide how to use it. As with the other social networking opportunities, you hope to provide information that will draw potential clients to your speaker. This is about what the speaker is thinking and doing, about current events in the news, things that relate to the subjects your clients are interested in.
Blog entries or “posts” can be of any length, but are typically 250 to 500 words or the equivalent of a page or two. Blog posts are similar to articles, but because they can be made more immediately available, they are often your own views about the news of the day.
The best blogs are updated often (at least once every two weeks) and talk with energy and enthusiasm about the interesting parts of the work the speaker is doing or the challenges he or she is facing or clients are facing. The speaker can showcase his or her expertise and show he or she gets what is going on in the industry and is actively finding solutions for clients. You can use a blog to interview someone (or have them write a guest blog), to talk about an attended event or give an opinion about what is going on.
If the blog is read widely, you will find that people leave comments about the blog posts. Some may agree, others disagree, but the point is to stimulate constructive discussion. You can easily delete blog posts that are malicious or just spam.
Creating and Distributing Newsletters
Many speakers and others still create monthly newsletters to update those on the mailing list all at once about events, resources and more. The VSA’s job is to work with the speaker on editing and proofreading the content. The VSA also posts the newsletter on the speaker’s website and makes sure it is highlighted in social networking (posted on Facebook, promoted by tweets).
One easy way to network using the Internet is to sign up for some of the best social networking sites. The good news: they are all free. The bad news: they can take up a lot of time with few results unless you know what you want and make a plan to get there. Once you have a speaker website, you could spend all your time sending out communication via a blog, Twitter, and by participating in Facebook and LinkedIn groups. These are all worth doing, but only in a measured and focused way. If the speaker doesn’t spend enough time on social networking he or she may be giving up some great opportunities. If the speaker spends too much time, he or she will be missing opportunities to focus on selling products and services in other ways.
Why Use Social Networking?
There are several things you hope to accomplish with social networking that are unique to this form of communication:
1. You hope to show a human face to the world. Where the website might be all business, a more chatty blog or tweets can let someone into the funny side of doing the work and traveling to do it. Speakers who use social media demonstrate they they are “cool people who happen to speak.”
2. You are working to interact with your clients and potential clients in a way that will appeal to them. Interaction that demonstrates your ability to collaborate and understand the needs of your clients is key. Ask questions, stimulate discussion, do surveys, create polls to involve your readers. This not only helps customize speeches, but also builds community that buyers want to use to build attendance for their events.
3. It isn’t about what you want people to know about you, it is about what your readers want to know about you and your work that will help them understand themselves and their own work. This is the “emotional income” for many speakers and experts – making a difference.
Step One is to sign up for accounts and integrate them with the website and email signatures.
Step Two is to make a plan for how often you will participate and what topics the speaker focuses on, based on what the speaker wants to accomplish.
Step Three is to stick with the plan, but be open to opportunities for commenting on the news of the day that comes up unexectedly.
Twitter is becoming more and more popular as a way of sending short messages to those who are interested in the speaker and what he or she does. Once you set up a twitter account, you have your own Twitter page from which you can send 140 character messages called tweets. Go to www.twitter.com to get a Twitter account. Fill in the simple online form and click on “join the conversation”. Be sure and note your twitter URL which will start with http://www.Twitter.com/NAME.
Once you sign up, you can go to the twitter page to send a tweet, to see what was sent before and to see the tweets of the people you are following (more on that below). There are also ways of following tweets through your Internet browser, email, phone and more.
Things to think about
1. Personal versus business – Twitter is a fun playground and you can frivolously tweet about what you had for lunch and your new outfit or you can use it for business. If you use it for business, even when you send personal tweets, they should be intended to interest the audience of potential clients. Just as you would with clients on the phone, you definitely want to talk about the weather or good books, so think about what would be appropriate small talk at a retail store and you will be on the right track for what to tweet about from a personal standpoint. Don’t think of twitter as a sales tool, think of it as a connection tool to build your brand and allow people to know and trust you.
2. Think ahead – Just because twitter can be used at a moment’s notice doesn’t mean it has to be. Create a list of tips for your target audience and tweet them when news stories make them relevant or schedule them (see link below).
3. Express personality with causes – If the speaker loves animals, then he or she could tweet about the Humane Society or the local aquarium and their latest event or news. If the speaker has a passion for writers or books, he or she could tweet about the local independent bookstore or meeting a new author. This is a great way of expressing interests and depth without the tweets being all about speaking and what you are selling today. Write about what makes you happy, makes you take notice, makes you concerned, about what you are really working hard on, but whatever you choose, stay focused on your audience and what they want to hear from you.
4. Promotion versus expertise – Tweets should show off your expertise or connections rather than blatantly promoting the business. If the speaker wants promotion, cross-promote. In other words, send a tweet about a wonderful new author, who will send a tweet about the fabulous retreat at which the speaker gave the keynote. If you tweet day after day about the speaker’s new blog, radio show, new article, or about the latest event, clients will get bored in a hurry.
Good to Know
1. Setting up the account – it is good to use the speaker’s name or business name for the account. You are referred to on Twitter as @yourname (ex: @janbking) so your real name or something professional is best.
2. People who follow your tweets are called your “followers” and people you follow are referred to on your Twitter page that you are “following” them. The aim is to follow people who you want to get to know and hopefully get people to follow you. People follow you because either you are famous or because you have something to say that they want to hear, or because they hope by following you, that you will follow them and their stats will go up. It is a good idea to follow any potential clients, speaking gurus and thought leaders.
3. You will want to put the URL for the speaker’s website and other information on the Twitter page so people can get more information about who the speaker is and speaker topics.
Many people create special tools that help social networking work better and Twitter is no exception.
Customize your Twitter page
See a great blog post for all the details at: http://www.twitip.com/6-tips-for-using-your-twitter-profile-to-get-new-followers.
Link your social networking
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn each have applications to link to the others so that no matter where someone finds you, they can get to all of your information.
A Resource to Learn More and Keep Up With New Developments
Clever Ways to Use Twitter for Speakers
1. Get on Twitter and watch the trends on what people are talking about
2. Tweet expert viewpoints and commentary on the news
3. Do a twitter campaign
4. Create a contest using Twitter
5. Create a Twitter scavenger hunt
6. Catch up on industry news
7. Look at trends in what speakers are speaking about
8. Challenge the speaker to create an elevator pitch for his or her primary speaking topic within the 140 character limit
9. Use Google search (http://www.google.com/insights/search/#) to see what the hot topics are today and use those to inspire tweets and blog posts.
10. Take a poll or send out a question (www.polldaddy.com)
11. Locate resources or interviewees
12. Refer to great resources
Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites. There is no cost to create a profile on Facebook but it is important to know that a personal Facebook page must be tied to a human name, not a business name. To sign up for Facebook you fill out some simple information on their Sign Up Page and click “sign up”. Once you have signed up, Facebook will take you to a new Facebook page where you can begin to add information. Make sure and copy the URL so you remember how to find your way back to the page. The URL will start with: http://www.Facebook.com/
Create A Profile
You can both create a personal profile page as well as a Facebook “page” for the business. First, you create your speaker’s personal profile page as a base where you can add videos, a connection to a blog and more. Be sure to include all the information requested in the sign up process to make the most of the profile. Use the “About Me” section to describe the business and what the speaker does. In the “Information” box on the main profile page, you can feature links to the website, blog and other business resources. Be sure to include photos so that others can recognize the speaker online. At the center of the profile page is the “wall”. Here you can add things like photos, videos, notes and other content. The “Publisher” at the top of your Wall allows you to “update your status” and share content through many different kinds of Wall posts.
Communicate with Wall Posts
Each Facebook member has a “wall” where friends can post messages. This is a great place to post a quick note to those in the speaker’s friends list. In the business networking world, this is the online equivalent of picking up the phone to say hello.
Update Your Status
At the top of your Facebook home page is a status box. When you post a status update, everyone on the friends list can see the update on their home page. Those using Facebook for social purposes might update their status to say, “Jenny is putting the kids to bed.” For business purposes, this is a place to share tips, promote events and even boost sales.
Facebook is based on the concept of connecting with friends. You can send and receive friend requests and once accepted, friends can view the profile and you can view theirs. To begin connecting with people, you can either import the speaker’s contact database or you can search Facebook for individual people. You can also view the friends list for each person the speaker is connected to. As an example, once the speaker has accepted a friend request from Mary, you can view her list of friends. If the speaker wants to connect with any of Mary’s friends, send a connection request.
Build Your Friends List
The point is to connect with as many potential clients as possible. One way to do this is to join a group and send connection requests to fellow members with a note. Just as you would with an in-person business introduction, take a moment to learn about new people you meet on Facebook. Networking always works best when there is a two-way exchange. If you can help a new Facebook friend, they will likely want to return the favor.
Online groups allow you to network virtually with potential clients and peers. To access groups, start from the speaker’s Facebook home page, view the list of applications and click on “Groups.” You can browse through thousands of themed groups with topics ranging from business to hobbies and everything in between. You can also search groups to find topics related to industries or locations. For example, if the speaker’s business is located in New York, you might search for groups based in New York.
If you really want to maximize the potential with groups, consider starting one of your own. Once again, there is no cost to do this and the visibility can be great. For example, if the speaker’s business is in Toronto, you might want to start a new speaker’s support group for Toronto. This is not to promote the business at every turn, but instead to make it known that your speaker is an expert resource, providing value for members by sharing interesting tips and engaging with them in the online forum.
Create Fan Pages
To create a fan page, scroll all the way down to the bottom of Facebook and click on “Advertising”. Next, click on “Pages” at the top of the screen. You will find some helpful explanations about how pages work, along with a link that will allow you to create a new page. Pages function a lot like profiles so you can add links, events, discussion boards and other features that make them interactive. Facebook will also post updates from your fan pages back on to the speaker’s profile so others know about them. And instead of sending friend requests out, you can invite others to become a “fan” of the speaker’s page. You will also have the ability to send messages to all of the speaker’s fans, allowing you to cultivate a community online.
LinkedIn is an online network catering to business people. Each individual member builds a personal profile. There is no way to set up a profile for a company, so this is for personal networking based on your past jobs, organization and friends.
To have a LinkedIn profile, sign up using the simple online form at http://www.LinkedIn.com. Once you click “join now” it will take you to a new profile page. One of the first things you will want to do is to get a simplified URL with the speaker’s name, if it is available. On the speaker’s page, click “profile” in the left navigation bar, and then “edit my profile” on the top box in the center of the screen. Scroll down to “public profile” and click “edit”. Enter in the name you would like to use and if approved, note that name so you can use it as your LinkedIn URL.
Create a profile
When you open a LinkedIn account, the first thing you do is create the speaker’s profile. One of the parts of the profile is to create a “professional headline”. This headline shows up in search results and when you comment in Discussions or Answers, so consider it part of the speaker’s brand. Consider using something like “Team Building Expert” – a tag line that incorporate keywords for the industry as well as words that attract the kind of attention the speaker wants. Other important keys are to list past employment, important honors or organizations and make sure you use a professional-done photo. You can link the speaker’s blog, twitter and Facebook accounts to the LinkedIn profile.
Once the profile is complete, it is time to build a network by importing contacts from the speaker’s email program (like Outlook or Gmail) and connect with the people who are already members of LinkedIn. LinkedIn will automatically search for those names to see which individuals are already part of the network. Invite new people to link, and customize the standard LinkedIn invitation to say something personal. To find new people to invite, use the search feature to find people by company, industry and city. You can find people in a company using advanced search using the “Search People” field. Sort the results by” Relationship.” Narrow your results by using the advanced search area on the right side. Find out how to reach a 2nd Degree contact by looking at the “Shared Connections” under their name.
When you look at someone’s profile you will see several unique and interesting things. Each individual has the opportunity to connect with many others, and you will see some people have thousands of connections and others only a few. Some people are very active and join groups and interact in a number of ways. LinkedIn profiles can help you find work, make connections and attract speaker prospects.
Join LinkedIn groups where you are likely to find clients or people who will refer them. This includes groups around common interests (like speakers and industry professionals) and alumni and other organization groups. Being active in a Group helps to increase your visibility and credibility. Check out the profiles of the people you are connected with to find out which groups they are have chosen to join. Search other speaker profiles so you can see how they are using LinkedIn as well.
LinkedIn has a feature where you get to ask questions, either of your network or of people in a particular industry. You could pose a question like “Do you know how I could find people to interview for my book on team building who have had successful facilitated experiences?”. Not only would you get suggestions on where to find people to interview, anyone with this experience would be likely to offer to be interviewed. It’s also possible that people have already asked questions on your topic, so if you search the Answers section using appropriate keywords, you are likely to find some usable information as well.
Another way to use this capability is to read posted questions and any that would highlight the speaker’s expertise, have the speaker answer those. In the answers section of LinkedIn check out the answers to questions previously asked, as a great and unique source of information.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of editors on LinkedIn who are constantly seeking “experts” to quote for their next story. By positioning the speaker as an expert on LinkedIn, you position the speaker squarely in their sights the next time they need someone to fill out their story. Be sure to indicate that the speaker is an “expert” on the subject in the profile, and go to the Answers section of LinkedIn and answer questions pertaining to this area of expertise to further bolster the speaker’s reputation as “the source to go to” on this topic.
Make sure you update the LinkedIn.com status often. You can do that by: Sharing useful articles and resources that will be of interest to clients and prospects, including downloadable files. In the LinkedIn Learning Center, at the bottom of every page, you’ll see lots of links. The first row of links has “LinkedIn Learning Center.” Click it. You’ll find many great articles. Under “Training Resources,” you’ll find free e-learning modules and webinars.
Ideas for speakers to use social media:
1. Watch others’ updates on Facebook and Twitter to judge trends and look for the hottest speakers
3. Tweet your expert viewpoints and commentary on the news
4. Create contests
5. Catch up on industry news
6. Use Google search (http://www.google.com/insights/search/#) to see what the hot topics are today and use those to inspire tweets and blog posts
7. Take a poll or send out a poll question of your own
8. Locate resources or interviewees
9. Refer to great resources