What to consider when taking the plunge to grow an online presence…
It is often very scary when you are faced with a blank page and you have to fill it. It can be terrifying to try to find the right words to express your thoughts and experiences to fill up that white space.
As a new blogger, I am feeling the very same panic right now. What do I say? What if nobody is interested? Do I have anything of value to offer the world? It is enough to make you want to switch off your devices and head for the hills!
Anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear that I am lost for words – I am often described as a chatterbox, in fact most people will attest that it is getting me to shut up that is the trick! But in all seriousness, I often hear from the people that I speak to on a daily basis that I am not alone in struggling to find my voice.
In today’s social climate, it seems to be more and more important to be seen to be connecting online, and as a business professional I am sure you will have been told that you need to have an ‘online presence’. The truth of the matter is that it can be a struggle to find the time and the energy to commit to ‘putting yourself out there’ in the virtual world to build a reputation as a thought leader. Even more tricky is making yourself heard above the chatter. Technological advances mean that it is ever easier to connect and share your thoughts and experiences, but with everyone doing the same thing it is hard to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
So where do you start?
The old adage ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now‘ applies when deciding to try your hand at building an online profile. There is no time like the present so be brave, commit some time and take the plunge. It can be scary but there are a few things to take into account to give yourself the best chance to succeed:
Know your limits – don’t try to set up or contribute to too many social profiles or blogs. It is better to pick one platform to focus your energy on getting right than spreading yourself too thin.
Set yourself some goals – what do you want to achieve? How much time do you want to commit to focus on doing it?
Set a timeline – give yourself a timeframe to work in, and at the end of the timeframe review your progress in relation to the goals you set yourself. Is there anything that is working well, or anything you can stop doing?
Plan your postings – Whether you are creating your own blogs, contributing to online groups or sharing and commenting on existing content over social media, it is important to properly plan what you post and when for maximum impact and manageability.
Know your audience – who do you want to engage with? What is relevant to them? What challenges do they face? How can you help?
Stick to what you know – demonstrate your strengths, knowledge and expertise by sharing, creating and commenting on subjects that you are good at. Remember that you ultimately want to generate connections and conversations around the content you share, so make sure that you are comfortable with the subject.
Write about what you are passionate about, what inspires you. It follows that your enthusiasm for your subject will shine through in your writing and make it more engaging for readers. Who knows, you may even inspire someone else!
Quality, not quantity is best. Remember – the goal is to connect and start a conversation, not to spam the marketplace with irrelevant content that nobody will want to read, let alone share.
Make sure that what you share is valuable – you want to be associated with knowledge and wisdom. Remember your audience and what you can do to help them with their challenges and interests. They will appreciate and engage more often with content that ‘speaks to them’.
Resist the urge to ‘sell’ – there is nothing that is more of a turn off than a pushy salesman. Remember when entering into conversations with potential connections, that the goal is to highlight how you can help them, not to over face them with an aggressive sales pitch. If what you can offer is appealing, people will come to you.
And most important of all…
Be yourself – don’t try to be something you are not when building an online presence. For one it is exhausting, and secondly, people will often see that you are not what you profess to be. If you want to grow your connections and followers it is important that you show them the ‘real you’ so that they can begin to get to know you, to like you and ultimately to trust you. Because when you earn someone’s trust, they will be delighted to work with you, to share your content and to recommend you to their friends.
So that is my first blog post, and it wasn’t as scary as I thought! Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments so please feel free to post below.
Ellen Woodbine – Practice Growth Expert, AVN