If you’ve got plans to be an author, a speaker or a thought leader, listen up! You may be doing things backwards…
LINEAR – The typical process
1) Build up expertise
2) Write a book or decide to begin speaking
3) Start to build an audience (your platform)
PARALLEL PATH – A better process
1) Build up expertise
2) a) Start building your platform (as soon as you read this post)
2) b) Start writing your book or ramping up your speaking (in parallel to 2)a))
What’s a Platform?
A platform is any mechanism by which you can regularly connect with an audience. It often involves subscribers or members, but it doesn’t have to.
Some examples of platforms:
- An email list – People who subscribe to your email list via email tools such as AWeber, Constant Contact or Mailchimp.
- Blog RSS Subscribers – People who subscribe to receive your blog posts as you publish them via an RSS reader or via email.
- A regular column in a website, newspaper or magazine – A regular gig at a periodical where the subscribers and readers of that periodical regularly read your content.
- Friends, Fans, Followers, Subscribers on Social Media – Your followers in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn make up a portion of your platform.
- A Group or Forum – My LinkedIn Small Business Marketing forum is an example of part of my platform. Membership groups that you own or control represent a portion of your platform.
- Borrowed platforms – If you work for a large company, you can leverage their platforms to reach an audience or to direct potential fans to your individual platform.
How do you grow your platform?
First, you need to choose where you’ll be building your platform. Will you have a Facebook Page? How about a blog? This is a great place to build thought leadership, to get your message out, and to build a platform.
A mailing list (using AWeber, Constant Contact, etc.) is generally considered one of the most valuable platforms because you have complete control over your message, you can regularly send offers, provide content or invite people to connect more deeply, and because email subscribers are generally more responsive than other types of connections.
Second, you need to have a platform-growing process. Do you funnel new contacts (offline and online) to your platforms? Do people join or opt-in to your platform when they get there? Why or why not? You need a compelling reason for them to join you…
Third, you need platform-building activities. Are you blogging regularly? Are you guest-blogging on other, popular blogs? Are you public speaking or talking with the press? Are you “borrowing” other people or organization’s platforms.
Platform = Power
The bigger your platform, the more influence you have. The more purchasing power that you have access to. The more fans that you’re connected to who can share your message via social media, email, word-of-mouth or via their own blogs, webinars or presentations. Potential partners will want to talk with you if you have a big platform. Conference organizers will be salivating over you if you have a big platform. Publishing houses will be more apt to look at you if you have an established fan base (platform). You’ll have a lot more leverage with a larger platform.
Why Build My Platform Sooner Than Later?
Platform-building takes time. It’s not something that can be turned on like a switch. Even if you don’t exactly know what you’ll use it for (use it for good, not evil please), start building your platform today!
Like compound interest, grow your platform a few subscribers at a time today to reap the massive benefits and power of your platform tomorrow.
Please email this post or share it with someone who may benefit from learning about Platform-Building. I’m sure they’ll thank you!