I’m running into a recurring theme when meeting new, interesting creative folks: they don’t know the first thing about how to promote themselves and what they’re doing. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re attending conferences or gathering with lots of interesting people to discuss your big ideas and future plans, a little self-promotion is a good thing.
- Business Cards- use a service like VistaPrint, or cooler still, make your own from something interesting. But make sure these things are true: your name is clearly printed on the card. Your email and also your telephone number are on the card. You may choose to add an IM address or Skype. Add a URL if it’s pertinent.
Hand OUT the business cards. There aren’t points for coming home with extras. The goal is to get these cards into people’s hands, into their files, and then to have them be used as a way to contact you and discuss things.
- Conversations- When you’re at these events, or at conventions, try and have something fairly simple ready to say if you find yourself in a conversation. It can even be pre-packaged, but have something to say about yourself, about your work, about why you’re at the event, and what you intend to do. People’s first question is often: So, what brings you here today? Have a really interesting answer. “I’m here to discover if my big plan will fly.” Boy, that’s a simple sentence, but it really has some wings, huh? People will talk about that with you.
And here’s another: once you meet with someone sufficiently, politely excuse yourself, and meet someone else. Sometimes, at these events, we meet a few people right off the bat, and then we stick with them the entire event. That’s fine sometimes, but at other times, it’s better to get around and meet everyone you can, because you never know where that big connection might come from. Mix it up. Get around and meet people. Oh, and if you personally aren’t really great at being social, but you’re trying to launch a company, befriend or partner with someone who IS, because these ideas don’t walk over and sell themselves.
- Authority- People react well to those who act with conviction and authority. If you sound very sure of yourself, and of what you’re doing, it will go over really well with people. If you sound like you’re testing the waters (even if that’s really what you’re doing), it will come off that way, and most people will become quickly disinterested.
Try working on sounding like you truly believe in what you’re doing, no matter what that is. “I’ve been writing this comic book, The Three-Testical Toucan, for four months, and I think it’s really going to take off with the next issue.” If you sound like you believe it, they’ll go along for the ride.
- Follow-Up- You can also think of this as a “call to action.” Even if you hand over a business card, talk fairly intelligently about your subject matter, and seem like you really are the expert in toucan comics, it matters that you are thinking about where you want to take things with anyone you talk with, and whether or not you have a call to action for them.
It might be something as simple as: I’ve published this comic and I want to sell you two issues at $1 off the cover price. Want them? Or it might be that you want to develop your idea further, and are asking for help and guidance. Whatever the case, consider the “call to action” or follow-up activity that you want from the person you’re talking with.
- Quid Pro Quo- I still think of Silence of the Lambs when I say that. It means something akin to “like for like” (lawyers, ring in!), and it basically means that in this new micro-economy of people with secret new businesses, there’s not a lot of money exchanging hands.
Sometimes the best currency is barter. You know everything there is to know about inking toucan art, and the other person knows how to talk with publishers. You have to try and find ways that your skill can be useful to the other person. Try to consider that during your interactions as well. It’s not always obvious, and people tend to think less of their own skills than their true value. So, give that some thought.
There are adventures out there to be had right now. It is a great time to have something creative, inventive, and small that you want to bring to a larger world. Be ready to bring your own ideas forward, and be ready to bridge the gap between what you have and know about, and the people who are eager to learn about your great idea.
–Chris Brogan is available for all kinds of consultation on the topics of big ideas, presentation skills, how to podcast, and any kinds of hacks you want to discuss. He hangs one of his hats at [chrisbrogan.com].