2014 has been an exciting year—I published my first book, started a blog, and had the privilege of becoming a regular contributor right here, on Adam Smith’s Blog. As someone who considers himself new to digital platform building, my 2014 goal was to learn from the best, and this pursuit led me on a journey of seeking wise advice. I did this by reading a multitude of books, taking a number of online courses, and personally emailing successful authors and bloggers. During this process, there was a phase in which I oversubscribed to email newsletters in order to receive the free eBooks, e-courses, and other lead-magnets. This led to a period of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email flooding my inbox, and an opposite phase of unsubscribing from the majority of these newsletters.
After my year of seeking advice from the experts, there are two thoughts that stand out in my mind. First, when it comes to building a digital platform, the majority of the lessons from experts seem to be offering similar advice:
1) Write high-quality content.
2) Publish consistently.
3) Create a lead magnet—such as an e-book, seminar, recourse list, etc. that will give your tribe a quick win, and offer it in exchange for your audiences e-mails address.
4) Build your e-mail list, build your e-mail list, and continue to build your e-mail list.
Thousands of people currently follow this advice, and I have noticed that while some are experiencing mild success, others are overwhelmingly prosperous. This led me to wonder, If so many people are doing the same thing, yet some are moderately successful, while others are having massive success, what is it that makes the difference?
Since I haven’t yet reached the point of being massively successful myself, I am not able to answer this question from the position of an expert. On the other hand, I do know what has caused me to continue following a handful of leaders, and the results are surprising. I have discovered that I am continuing to follow the leaders I do, not so much for the information they pass on, but because of who they are. It is their character that makes the difference. Here is the first of my favorite platform building leaders of 2014, and the key lessons from experts I am learning.
My interactions with Sandi began by accident. She followed me on twitter one day, and I followed back. Then Sandi sent me a personal message. Although I don’t remember what the message said, I do remember that it was a simple, friendly greeting, and as a result, I found myself browsing her website arealchange.com. I was immediately impressed with the sheer number of followers Sandi has on social media and how active her followers are. Every post had an abundance of likes, retweets, and shares.
Fast-forward to a few months later. The publishing coach I worked with encouraged me to seek out endorsements for my upcoming book. Although this book was months away from being completed, my coach suggested that I “begin now” and “go big”. So, I put together an executive summary of the book, along with a PDF of the first two chapters and e-mailed it to my favorite authors requesting their endorsement. However, I quickly ran into a roadblock as I discovered that it was much more difficult to get in contact with these author, speakers, and leaders than I had realized. Many of them had no public contact information available. Others had a general e-mail address where my request was either lost in the shuffle or filtered out by an assistant.
Remembering my coach’s words to “go big”, I thought of Sandi. I knew very little about her at the time, except for the fact that she had a very large social media following, appeared to be an excellent copy writer, and loved Jesus. I decided that this was enough for me. Since my book was on leadership, psychology, and Jesus—and Sandi seemed to share a similar passion in each of these areas—I decided to send her an endorsement request. What happened next taught me more about platform building than the majority of eBooks and courses I took over the year. During our brief interactions, I noted the following.
- First, Sandi’s e-mail address was readily accessible.
- Second, within an hour of sending my endorsement request I received a thoughtful reply from Sandi herself.
- Third, although Sandi didn’t provide an endorsement, her e-mail reply left me smiling and hopeful. In this short message Sandi outlined her endorsement process, let me know that if I followed this process, she would certainly consider my request, and let me know that she was believing that this would be a project she could fully support.
Suddenly I knew why Sandi has such a large following! Master communicators not only share valuable information, they also:
- Make themselves available
- Are willing to invest in the people around them, and
- Genuinely long for the best interests of those they lead
As leaders and communicators, I believe that who we are is more impactful than the information we share. A leader’s character is often remembered long after their message is forgotten. Sandi is the first of three leaders whose character inspired me in 2014. Although our interactions were brief, they were also memorable and as a result, I am seeking to be increasingly accessible as I invest in and hope for the best for those I come in contact with. With that said, should you need to connect with me this year, you can contact me any time at [email protected]
Next week I will share with you a second lessons from experts social-media interaction of 2014 that is continuing to influence how I lead and communicate. Until then, know that I am here if you need me and that I am wishing you the best as we kick-off 2015. It’s going to be an incredible year!