In order to be found, you have to be findable

Remember that old research project thing I was going on about a few weeks back.

Yup, still trucking along… I’ve just made a few adjustments to make it a bit more sustainable and less labor-intensive.

Long story short, I switched to a survey-first approach (using a version of this methodology) that lowers the bar on the initial commitment required to contribute.

I’m then following on for exploratory interviews to expose the “good stuff” hiding underneath those survey responses.

be findable survey

(By the way, here’s the link if you’re willing to contribute 5 minutes of your time.)

Anyway…

One thing I keep getting back from said survey, is when I ask, “How do you currently acquire new clients?” is something to the effect of:

“We do quality consulting and the word spreads.”

Okkkaaayyyy…

I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t quite believe you.

Which is why the interview process is important.

Because underneath those responses have been things like:

“Yea, I mean we got the initial account with this organization because I knew the CFO from my previous career and he brought us in. Then at one point in the engagement, we started to ask about other areas in the company that might be impacted similarly, and he introduced us to this other guy. From there, we sat down with them and went over what we did. They were interested in how that might apply to their department. And then we were able to figure out how to expand the account.”

Aha!

On the surface, this could be interpreted as “word of mouth.”

But no not really, right?

In fact, this firm is actually practicing a form of “content marketing.” It’s just not something they’re publicizing outside of a small network within this organization.

So that’s why this segment from Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work struck a chord:

“I hate talking about self-promotion. Comedian Steve Martin famously dodges these questions with the advice, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you’ If you just focus on getting really good, Martin says, people will come to you. I happen to agree: You don’t really find an audience for your work; they find you. But it’s not enough to be good. In order to be found you have to be findable. I think there’s an easy way of putting your work out there and making it discoverable while you’re focused on getting really good at what you do.”

I bet you can guess what his suggestion is…

“Almost all of the people I look up to and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. These people aren’t schmoozing at cocktail parties; they’re too busy for that. They’re cranking away in their studios, their laboratories, or their cubicles, but instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding their work, they’re open about what they’re working on, and they’re consistently posting bits and pieces of their work, their ideas, and what they’re learning online. Instead of wasting their time ‘networking,’ they’re taking advantage of the network. By generously sharing their ideas and their knowledge, they often gain an audience that they can then leverage when they need it – for fellowship, feedback, or patronage.”

And it is my suspicion that this same thing happens during the “word of mouth” and “networking” process.

Because what else would you be talking to these people about?

Your dog?

This is why when people ask whether “email works,” or whether it would be worth it to start a newsletter…

I have to do a mental reboot before speaking to prevent myself from saying something rude.

It’s not the medium, per se.

Yes, an email program is inherently more scalable, efficient, and robust… but it’s what you do with it that makes that determines success or failure.

It’s why the team at Waste Consultants is making an important decision.

To share what they’re doing.

To share what’s going on in their world.

And to provide a service to their market outside of what their clients pay them for…

So that one day they have a direct pipeline to an audience that supports their objectives and feeds back into what they do.

Should you share your work?

Should you spend the time and effort to publish?

Should you invest in something besides “spreading the good word?”

I’ll just let those questions hang in the air for a moment.

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