Yeah Twitter might be great, but what about actually speaking to people face to face? Is it so horrible to imagine? Are we so socially awkward the idea of shaking a hand makes our stomach turn?
The online world is great, but author marketing still needs some real world networking and that’s exactly what we’ll look at today.
Welcome back to the How To Build An Author House Series. Today I leave behind Social Media and its many forms, and turn my attention to PR (Personal Relations) and general networking based activities. This includes everything from Conferences to Guest Blogging, and Stumbleupon to Newspapers…so sit back and get ready to make some notes.
I’m really happy to invite Dan Blank to the Blog today, a person I’ve been following closely since I started this very Blog. Dan is a bit of an all round star who uses video, webinars, Blogs, and a whole host of other media to get his message across. Not only does he know the process of actual writing and producing books, but an expert when it comes to author platforms.
So let’s jump straight in and see what Dan has to say about offline networking and how it can help your author marketing:
In building an author platform, how important is networking – both online and offline?
Relationships are the basis of so much that happens in our life. How we meet our girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses, how we land jobs, how we choose where we go to school, and so many other details.
When considering your author platform, relationships are everything. Not to be “used” in any sort of selfish way, but to align your purpose with the motivations and goals of others.
I have been floored at people’s generosity, and how it is so much more powerful to create something together, rather than alone. The greatest asset to reaching your goals is relationships.
How can an aspiring author network in the real world?
Know where your audience is. What events do they go to, what organizations do they belong to, where do they show up? This could be informal gatherings, formal affiliations, or something in between, such as a conference or event.
Also… I am always shocked that people pile into the most crowded channels (social media), and shy away from the least crowded channels: in-person meetings, phone, Skype, or email.
When you meet someone online that you feel has a strong alignment with what you are building, don’t be afraid to email them, to setup a meeting, and to generally find a way to strengthen that connection.
With so much emphasis on online networking (via social media and online communities) is traditional offline networking still important?
Yes. Actually, it’s even more powerful than before. Social networking allows the perception that we are making strong connections. Sometimes this is true, but many times it’s not.
We are just casually present in the lives of many, which is very different to truly developing a strong relationship. Meeting someone offline and speaking face-to-face can go a long way in fixing this.
How do you personally utilise offline networking to leverage your author platform and Brand?
Food and coffee are two of the most powerful networking tools. I regularly meet people online or briefly at an event, follow up via email, and then invite them out for a meal or coffee.
When you sit and chat with someone one-on-one for an hour, you get to know them as a whole person. You learn more about who they are, their goals, their perspective, and the many facets of their life. It becomes the foundation for a true relationship, not just “networking.”
Can you name some examples of people you’ve met, and experiences had because of offline networking?
The list is too long! I’ll share a few examples though… I met Kevin Smokler (@weegee) on Twitter, but our friendship formed when we met up at the Stage Deli in NYC and shared a meal, and incredible conversation about books and music.
Jane Friedman and I had multiple online and phone chats, but it wasn’t until we sat down for a drink for an hour that I think we really understood each other’s perspective on who we are, and how we view publishing.
I go back to that conversation in my mind many times. That’s just the tip though as I could go on and on…
When looking for a writer’s conference to attend, what would you recommend an aspiring author to look for?
That will depend on the type of work the writer creates and their goals overall. There is no one size fits all. Some authors are business-minded, building revenue streams on top of their writing. Others are hoping to develop their craft and improve their writing to the next level.
Then there are genre specific conferences, which again, is ideal for certain people. You need to consider what you want from the experience and research the variety of options available.
What tools should an aspiring author use at conferences to help them stand out?
Use the time BEFORE the conference and AFTER to make the event itself more powerful. Research the speakers, who will be attending, who you want to meet. Setup meetings before the event, and follow up afterwards.
Porter Anderson and I did a post on our best tips for getting the most out of a conference:
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Dan for his advice today. Getting caught up in the aura of Twitter is easy, and don’t get me wrong, the online world is great, but we should never forget the ‘real world’ beyond it.
As Dan says, you often need to meet someone in person to truly get a sense for who they are, even if it’s just a thirty-minute coffee. At SXSW I met some great folk – some at bars and others in a more formal setting – and I’ve already kept some of those conversations going via online means. Who knows what some of these relationships may develop into?
When building an author platform you need to consider every angle possible. This includes going to conferences, joining book clubs, and going on courses. If you get a chance to meet a fellow writer, or agent, or editor then take it with both hands.
One of my aims is to join a writing/book club, and I would love to go to a writing specific conference in the next year (oh, and I’ll be asking Dan and Porter Anderson for some advice on this). It doesn’t stop there however, because I also want to speak at these events, but this all takes time, effort, and actually getting to know people.
Online, offline… hell, it’s all good for your author marketing come sundown!
Just don’t forget about the real world because it could hold some amazing people just yearning for a coffee 🙂
Once again, huge thanks to Dan, and I hope you will all follow Dan on Twitter and on his own site. Next week he starts a course on author platforms, and it’s something I seriously considered joining (SXSW drained my bank account unfortunately). I’m sure the people on the course will get a great deal from it (including guest such as Jane Friedman, Joel Friedlander, Joanna Penn, and Jeff Goins) and I’ll be following closely for some cool author marketing tips.
Next time on the How To Build An Author House Series I continue my trek into PR, with the focus turning to Guest Blogging (You being the actual Guest). I have Danny Ivy from Firepole Marketing offering some tips, so it’s one not to miss.
Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million
Have you been to a conference?
Has it helped your author marketing moving forward?
Leave a comment below and share your experiences…
Dan Blank is the founder of WeGrowMedia.com, which provides writers and publishers the strategy and tactics they need to impact their communities and build their legacies. He has worked with more than 500 writers, a wide range of publishers, and regularly speaks at conferences about branding, content strategy, social media, and marketing. He teaches an 8-week online course for writers called Build Your Author Platform. You can follow him on Twitter at @DanBlank and read his Blog at http://WeGrowMedia.com