It takes talent and hard work to get a message – be it your songs, products, business, thoughts, cause or book – to a wide audience. These days the world seems within easy reach, thanks to the internet and social media. But focusing solely on them can hinder you.
“Those who are on a journey with the goal of creating more impact need to maximize both their offline contributions and their online presence over time to reach more people. They need to share the value of their work both online and offline,” consultant Becky Robinson, who has helped many authors promote their books, writes in her book Reach.
Start by clarifying your message. Foggy, confusing, uncertain messages will be sidelined. Clear messages gain traction. “The clearer you are about the value you bring to the world, the easier it is for people to remember you and the easier it is for you to stay focused on growing traction for your work,” she says.
Identify the people you want to attract. But don’t fixate on that group. Building online influence, she warns, is a continuing process of discovery. You may target one group and find another is actually more receptive.
Banish the thought of going viral with your online efforts. There is no ready formula for going viral. Usually it comes as a surprise, perhaps an embarrassing or even shameful moment. “Viral does not equal value. Most viral content has a very short life. Even if you can create viral content, you will still face the challenge of creating impact over time if you want to make a real difference through the content,” she says.
Success in your efforts comes from four commitments:
- Value: Your product, idea or message must be worthwhile for you to attain reach. And it must continue to improve. “The best ideas don’t always get exponential reach, but an underdeveloped idea will rarely catch on. If you want to create great reach, you need to ensure that what you’re offering is something that will attract and retain your audience,” she says. Remember, as well, that while some people may immediately latch on to your offering and others never find value from it, some people will need time to reach a point in their lives when it becomes attractive.
- Consistency: You must repeat your key ideas and core message over time, reaching out again and again to your intended audience. The consistency imprints what you have on their minds and rewards them for being interested in you.
- Longevity: The longer you are around, the greater your impact. This is the opposite of the viral effect. It takes years to become an overnight success. “The importance of longevity applies regardless of how old you are, no matter when you start,” she notes.
- Generosity: Don’t be selfish. Look to share – to help others. Where you can share for free, do so, as rewards will return in the future.
A website should be the centre of your reach campaign, a place of your own in a crowded and noisy internet. Your most important action on that site is to get people to give you their e-mail addresses for a permission-based list you can use to reach out. Social media can help you to form and deepen relationships. But keep in mind that you don’t control the algorithms that determine what content people see, so you can’t rely solely on social media.
Still, you can reach out and build fame with your targeted audience.
- To get your boss to love your presentation, speaking coach Gary Genard recommends offering the bottom line of the message at the start. As well, if it’s a presentation with slides, don’t go to those until you have shared your conclusion, with whatever vital supplementary information is needed so that the boss can without distraction absorb the proposal before presenting additional evidence in slides.
- Reach out in painful situations rather than closing down, advises executive coach Dan Rockwell. Reach out; stay curious; and don’t rush to answer or solve the situation.
- Speak positively rather than negatively. Executive coach Kate Nasser notes the hundreds of things you say every day in the negative could be offered instead in a positive, caring way.
- Whether something is deemed a failure depends on when performance is measured, observes author James Clear. If you seem to be failing, consider the possibility you are just in the middle of succeeding.
Harvey Schachter is a Kingston-based writer specializing in management issues. He, along with Sheelagh Whittaker, former CEO of both EDS Canada and Cancom, are the authors of When Harvey Didn’t Meet Sheelagh: Emails on Leadership.
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