You may be able to do it even faster
It had almost been a year of incessantly trying to grow my platform. I was on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, and I would have been on Tik Tok too if it were popular in 2018. My upcoming Skype interviews at big companies were an indication that my time as an entrepreneur was dwindling. I was ready to go back to big business, a set schedule, working for somebody else.
On a fine fall morning, I went for a run with one of my entrepreneurial mentors, Peter Shankman. He asked me how everything was going, and I told him about my upcoming interviews.
“Bullsh*t.” He told me quite bluntly. I told him I wasn’t making the progress I thought I would by now. I had given it a year, and I was going to maybe try to do this on the side, but it was time to go find a job.
“Bullsh*t.” He told me again.
He told me to give it a few more months. And he told me to focus. He told me not to focus on growing everywhere, but rather to just focus on growing somewhere. After a brief chat about which platform I enjoyed most, I chose LinkedIn, and I got started.
I was brutally honest about my current situation
One of my favorite concepts in the personal development world, which translates over to my entrepreneurial endeavors, is radical candor. I am an unshakable optimist, which means I always believe the future will be brighter. But what it does not mean is that I can’t accept my current reality.
Across all my platforms, I was at about 20,000 views per month on all of the content I was putting out there. I also had one coaching client paying me $500 per month for career advice. These were the two metrics I believed mattered most in what I was trying to build. Coaching services and monthly views.
These numbers were not where I wanted to be. I always told myself that I wanted to be working with three coaching clients at a time, and I wanted to be in the six figures for monthly views.
My radical candor told me I was nowhere near there.
My unshakeable optimism told me it was absolutely possible to get to it.
I did my due diligence
Before diving into any new challenge, as spontaneous and action-oriented as you want to be, a little bit of research goes a very long way. Because LinkedIn was my place of choice, I spent a week consuming all that I could on the platform. I took notes on the top content producers. I noticed what was working for them. I realized when their posts boomed and when they flopped.
You must get accustomed to the big hitters in your field of work. Why are they where they are? What are they doing differently? What is their core message? How can you emulate their process, but make it your own to make your mark on this territory?
I started following twenty of the top content producers in my space (anywhere from 10,000 to 10,000,000 followers), and I studied their every move.
I began to engage
Once I spent a week reading all of this content and figuring out which people I wanted to be like, I started to engage. I would make comments on their posts. I would comment on the comments. I would send direct messages.
I would do this 20 times a day and look out for each one of the 20 people I decided were most relevant in my field.
But when it comes to commenting, it is not just about throwing in a “Nice job!” or a “True, I agree!” It’s about providing something meaningful and continuing the conversation. Maybe pose a question. Share a short story. Tell about a client experience. This is where you can really stand out by doing something different than everybody else.
I set up phone calls
After a few weeks of strictly engaging online with people — commenting, sending emails, sending direct messages — I decided it was time to get some advice offline.
I reached out to a number of micro-influencers — people who I saw were on their own journeys as well. They were responsive. They were trying to engage with their audience. They were willing to help.
I did try to connect with some of the megastars like your Gary Vee’s and Arianna Huffington’s of the world but to no avail.
I got so much out of speaking with these micro-influencers, because they were currently in the trenches, simply reflecting on their experiences with me.
I started to share my own content
Notice that up until now I have not mentioned growing my audience or enhancing my coaching income. That is because I did not. Rather, I was putting in all the behind-the-scenes work that would give me the best chance to grow, once I started putting myself out there.
After a full month of being patient and studying this world of platform growth, I posted my first video. A short and sweet video with my grandma about one of the happiest moments in her life. It got 15,000 views. I had almost reached my previous monthly total with one post.
A couple of the key reasons why this post did so well was the following.
- I sent it to a few of my new micro-influencer friends asking for support
- I sent it to some people I had seen making comments on similar posts over the past month
- I told a story that had nothing to do with business, or growing my following, or getting more coaching clients. I focused on being my authentic self and bringing value to others in the form of joy
From all of the work I had done over the last month leading up to this, I had my own little built-in support team for anything I was to post moving forward.
I continued to tell stories about who I was
Whether a coach, author, or entrepreneur, you are always selling yourself. You are selling your confidence, your personality, your story. All of the content I put out for the next month was either stories from my life, my client’s life, my friend’s life, or my family’s life, that highlighted my beliefs, values, and ways of solving challenges. In essence, I created content that allowed people to know like and trust me.
You don’t want to just tell people that your product has the best features in the entire world, and they’d be missing out if they didn’t get it. Show them why this product changes somebody’s life. Show them why you change somebody’s life.
At the end of the second month, I had 100,000-page views on LinkedIn alone, and because of certain posts, I had two individuals request to be coached by me for problems they were facing in their lives. And just like that, I had quintupled my content engagement and tripled my coaching income. But this is not the most important part.
The most important part is that after two months, I went back to Peter, and I thanked him for his advice. I thanked him for his motivation and his idea to shift my focus.
Peter laughed. “I didn’t do anything. You just started doing the work that matters most. You focused your attention on what you enjoyed, and you stuck with it. You figured it out on your own. You failed, and you were ready to give up, and just when you thought all was lost, you gave it one last try. And it worked. That is entrepreneurship.”
No matter where you are with your idea or business, please give it one last try. Try something different. Try focusing elsewhere. Put in the behind the scenes work that matters most. The process alone will be well worth it.