Publish or Perish

I know you’ve had a busy week, so I’ll get right to the point: When it comes to attracting clients to you and your business, “showing up” is not the same as creating.

Here’s what I mean…

Last week, I attended a dinner event put on by the local chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants. You know the deal: 60 minutes of standing around schmoozing; 45 minutes of a buffet dinner; 90-minute presentation by a panel of speakers on some businessy topic; 15 minutes trying to convince somebody to go get a beer with me afterwards.

I love these events. Mostly because after nearly 10 years, there’s a good chance I already know many of my fellow attendees. So it’s a fun opportunity to catch up, meet some new people, and, as Jackson Browne famously sang, “forget about the losses and exaggerate the wins.”

One thing I’ve noticed again and again at these types of events is that the speakers for the evening enjoy an elevated stature within the group. It only lasts for one night, but during that night, the speakers are approached more often, listened to more carefully and greeted more warmly than the rest of us.

And not just while they’re speaking either; it’s the entire evening, from start to finish. The fact is, from a networking/visibility/he-must-be-an-expert point of view, there are few activities more efficient than being “the speaker.”

The problem, of course, is that even if you happen to be the exalted individual in question that night, it’s temporary. After all, you can’t be the speaker every month.

Or can you…? (cue dramatic music).

Here’s the thing. When you create original, thoughtful, useful content and send it to the same group of people on a regular basis (did somebody say “E-Newsletter?”), it’s as if you’re the dinner speaker – month after month after month. As Yoda might say, the stature that you are is elevated.

And, just as the benefits of speaking at an event last longer than the short time you’re up at the podium, publishing quality content lasts longer than just the day your newsletter arrives. Here as well, people out in the world (some of whom are future clients) approach you more often, listen more carefully to what you have to say and yes, greet you more warmly than your otherwise invisible competitors.

But not all “content” is created equal. Just as there are different levels of participation at a business dinner event, there are different levels of participation in the world of content creation:

  • Level Zero: You don’t create anything. Like the guy who never shows up for dinner, your absence keeps you invisible. You don’t have a web site; you haven’t set up a LinkedIn profile; you don’t stay in touch with the people you know. You’re missing from the party.
  • Level One: You participate. You come to dinner, you talk to people, you show your face. This is infinitely better than not being there at all, and while it’s not a home run and you’re certainly not the main attraction, you’re in the game.

    In the world of content creation, Level One is the bucket into which I put all the online observing, reacting and pointing. Things like retweeting a useful link; “liking” somebody’s Facebook post; commenting on a blog. It’s all good stuff and absolutely worth doing – it reminds me of who you are and it shows me that you’re involved.

    But – and this is a significant but – Level One activities aren’t all that impressive. Yes, they remind me that you are still alive. But they don’t position you as an expert, they don’t show me how you think, and they don’t tell me much about who you are, what you do, and why.

    In short, Level One activities don’t make me stop what I’m doing and think, “Hmm… that person knows what she’s talking about. How can we hire her?” For that, you need the next level.

  • Level Ten (yes, it’s exponential): You create … you are tonight’s dinner speaker.

    You write something that’s intriguing or insightful or controversial. Here, you’re not pointing to the thoughts of others. You are the one to whom others are pointing.

    But wait, it gets better. Thanks to social media, those who create Level Ten content are more likely than ever to be seen. Think about it – all those people with Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are searching for things to point to.

    Why not you? If you create the content, you’ll be the other to whom the pointers are pointing (oops, Yoda again).

Here’s the bottom line. It’s great to get involved, interact, and stay in touch. I do it deliberately and systematically, and absolutely, it’s a lot better than being invisible.

But if you want people to remember you, pay attention to you and view you as an expert, you need to do more than just show up. Quality content is your turn at the podium. Okay, who wants to go get a beer?

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