Peter Shankman is “that guy” -- the guy who has great ideas, shares cool stuff, and maintains a devoted social media following.
Shankman is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), and came to Salt Lake City last week to speak about how to be “that guy” too, by reinventing the art of networking.
While it’s difficult to pick and choose from this power-hour of advice, I have distilled the night into three ways to build your business or personal brand.
“A lot of the stuff that goes online is primarily really bad self promotion,” Shankman said. Why? It’s pointless. So much of what we do on social media is doing something just to do something. Do you really want people to associate your brand with every meal or one-off thought you’ve had? Probably not.
Be mindful of what you share. If there is any doubt, for a second, don’t share it. “That guy” doesn’t waste your time. His posts aren’t mundane, esoteric, offensive, or too frequent.
Shankman advises, “Unless the place you are checking into [on Foursquare] has celebrities, bacon, cupcakes, or is on fire, you do not need to check in there.” His point: Don’t be Roman who is having an okay day and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station and told 800 people who don’t care.
Be a “Finder”
You can avoid self-promotion by being what Shankman called a “Finder.” You become one by having, sharing, and knowing. People love finding things. They love discovering and sharing. Try to be the first. Finders share the next big meme. They share things that people like or need.
Shankman suggested subscribing to breaking news in your town--not national news--and tweeting it out. Share two things you’ve found a day, like this great commercial, and make them count.
One of Shankman’s biggest takeaways of the night was his advice to help people.
“Self promotion, when you do it right, is help,” he said. “If more people in the world actually incorporate ‘helping’ into their self-promotion, more people in the world will be helped.”
This practice of offering, rather than taking, extends from being a “finder.” Finders share useful things.
In real life, Shankman suggests you take 5 things you do over the course of a day, and turn that into help.
You could choose something simple like paying for the guy behind you at Starbucks. “If you can be helpful, that will promote you.”
Shankman shared an experience with steak about how help turned into promotion. Before leaving on a long flight, Shankman jokingly tweeted Morton’s The Steakhouse (@Mortons) asking them to have a steak waiting for him when he landed. Not only did they respond with a steak, but they included potatoes and a waiter in a tux--all waiting for him when he deplaned. Shankman took a picture, shared it via social media, and within days the story aired on the Today Show.
People remember those who help them. They praise you for it and do your marketing for you.
When you want to build your brand and credibility, whether personal or business, take “I” out of the equation. If you want people to “need” you or your product, become the type of person or company they go to fill a need.
They’ll remember you when they need a steak or whatever it is you offer.
Our SEO.com folks had a blast at the event, and here are a few of their Tweets from the evening:
— Becca Babicz (@Bebabz) March 1, 2013