Are You an Agent of Change?

Just over a week ago, I attended the annual Agents of Change Digital Marketing conference, here in Portland, Maine and organized by Rich Brooks of Flyte Media. This was my second time attending the conference, and like last year, I was struck how digital marketing strategies closely resemble success in one’s career.

Key takeaways for me as a career coach…the importance of creating value for your audience; the importance of “raving fans” — people who will advocate on your behalf; the importance of small, quick wins; engaging our audience/community; and taking them to the next level with your content.

Regardless of where you are in your career — just starting out as a new grad, or seeking your last gig prior to retirement — these are issues you need to pay attention to.

The Importance of Creating Value

Creating value for an organization is the touchstone of today’s careers. Regardless of your field, if you rely solely on a body of knowledge; acquire, organize and interpret data; or provide functional, logical and rational products and services; then you are a commodity and in danger of being replaced. Regardless of your education or training, your skills are in abundance; your work can be automated and outsourced for cheaper, faster products.

Assets on the other hand, continually add value to an organization. Assets are creative, designing new products and services that improve the bottom line. Assets interact and empathize with clients to help define their needs and design solutions that fit. Assets are of continual use to their organizations. Strive to be an asset.

The Importance of “Raving Fans”

Pat Flynn, a thought leader in online entrepreneurship, spoke about building a thriving community of fans, especially “Raving Fans.” Pat spoke about the Affinity Pyramid to build an audience. At the bottom of the pyramid was a broad base of the “Casual Audience,” people who occasionally or just one-time come into contact with the organization. As the pyramid narrows to the top, interaction becomes more regular and intense, until finally, at the apex of the pyramid are the “Raving Fans.” These are the people who can’t live without your brand. They refer others to your brand.

In your career, Raving Fans are the people in your network who will refer you to potential employers. They will actively seek out opportunities on your behalf. They may be mentors, colleagues or clients. Take care of these people. Nurture these relationships.

The Importance of Small Wins

Flynn had a great quote: “If you want to change someone’s life, start by changing their day first.” He noted the power of achieving immediate results. They don’t have to be life changing, but they have to “move the needle;” move progress forward. Providing value is often just a matter of small changes that, over time, have significant impacts. You don’t necessarily have to save the company or the project, just make it easier for colleagues or clients to accomplish the tasks at hand.

The Importance of Engaging Your Audience

One of the biggest takeaways from the conference was that to be effective in online marketing, you must engage your audience. Engagement is what moves people up the Affinity Pyramid, from casual interaction to Raving Fans. Flynn quoted Jay Abraham, “if you can define the problem better than your customer, you’re automatically assumed to have the solution.” In order to define the problem, you have to listen, to ask questions, to ask why and how. In other words, get the audience — or hiring manager or client — to engage in talking about the problems they’re challenged with. My colleagues and I call these engagements strategic conversations and coach our clients on how to conduct them with people in organizations they’re interested in working for.

Taking Your Audience to the Next Level

Chris Ducker, another online entrepreneur, spoke about building your online brand and the significance of P2P relationships. P2P relationships are “people to people” relationships. P2P, Ducker believes, is where marketing is headed. People want to do business with people, not nameless organizations and brands.

To build your brand and take your audience (boss, client) to the next level, Chris suggests the following: Build more, better relationships: business runs on relationships; people hire people they know, or people they know know (referrals);Build your tribe: a group of people who are connected to one another, a leader and an idea; Build your platform: whether it’s blogging, podcasting, or your LinkedIn Profile, you need to create and curate content that is directly helpful to your audience — content that sparks new thinking or action.

So, over to you…Can you see how the key aspects of digital marketing apply to your career success. Can you be an Agent of Change?

 

This post originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald on September 29, 2014.

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