Are you a digital influencer or would you like to be?
I have always invested in education and knowledge. I believe it’s absolutely necessary for the professional me but also for my customers. My clients hire me for consulting, coaching and training and they trust I know what I am talking about. So being “knowledge-hungry”, no matter what industry you are in, is paramount.
Being current in the Digital Age is quite a challenge for marketers, so I decided I would share my own educate-ME strategy with you and how I position myself as a digital influencer.
#1 Industry Events
Each year I set aside a budget for industry events. I conduct my research and choose at least four major events to attend. Time is money so choose well. You want to leave an industry event feeling more knowledgeable, inspired into action (into action is the important part), better networked, armed with tips, tricks and strategies to add value to your customers or to your online community.
How I decide on what events to attend:
- Speakers – have I heard them before, are they accessible generally or is it a coup for event organisers to have them; what knowledge do they possess and what can I learn from them; will I get an ROI on my investment (in terms of time and money)?
- Topics – the content is a real trigger for me. If the event title and theme hook me in, then I’m more likely to book. Good content should follow through from each speaker and this is the role of the event organiser.
- Accessibility – in terms of location, cost and ability to network with speakers. I really get annoyed when speakers are whisked away like they are VIPs and the event attendees are NVIPs (not very important people) – after all isn’t it the attendees money that pays the speakers? So if I am sure the speakers are accessible to me for a quick chat, network over lunch/dinner, or even a DM or respond to a social media message, then I’ll be more likely to book.
#2 Professional Training
I am a bit obsessed with knowledge! However, ongoing professional training should be built into your knowledge-box. I undertake at least one professional development course each year in an area that I need to learn more about. This year I have committed to learning a new social media tool every day in my #366socialmedia challenge.
#3 Academic Qualifications
If you want to be recognised in your industry as an expert then consider your academic qualifications. I have a broad range of communications and business qualifications which I cherish. From a very early age I knew that education would be my passport to personal and professional independence and so returning to school at 17 when my daughter Sophie was six weeks old, was actually a very easy decision. 20 years on and I have graduated from third level education seven times! I am the epitome of lifelong learning. My most recent graduation was a Masters in Digital Marketing in 2014. So remember you’re never too old!
#4 Are You A Practitioner?
Practicing what you preach is vital. You need to be able to apply your knowledge in real life. This is why I am still a practitioner in digital marketing and social media and not simply a full-time trainer or coach. I feel it’s important for me to test and iterate and practice my knowledge in the real world. It keeps me current and on the curve racing to be ahead of it! I regularly get the opportunity to share my case studies at events which also improves my public speaking skills and gives me access to a captive market.
#5 Reading & Listening
I read industry books, blogs, articles, eBooks, webinars and white papers and I also regularly listen to podcasts. Consuming knowledge on the go is how I keep up. Podcasts in the car, webinars in my daughter’s bedroom (on her Apple TV), blogs and online resources during ‘waiting time’ and books at the weekend, I’m constantly consuming content. So subscribe to podcasts, blogs, webinars and create a list of your favourite influencers to follow. And make your downtime, productive time. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog too!
#6 Your Ecosystem
Who’s in your ecosystem? I’m a fan of collaborating with those in the digital marketing industry, as opposed to having a ‘competitive’ mindset. We can all learn from each other and we shouldn’t be precious about our knowledge. Afterall, much of what we know can be found on Google, but it’s how we articulate it, put it into action, visually display it and deliver it.
#7 Blogging / Guest Blogging
I blog, clearly! But I also guest blog for other websites/bloggers and I really enjoy expanding my reach by collaborating with others in my industry. I also accept guest blog posts on my blogs and curate blog posts from influencers. It’s a great way to network, increase brand influence and it’s about stretching your mind in your industry. You must constantly think about creative ways to share your knowledge. Last year my blogging efforts were recognised when my blog was named one of Ireland’s top marketing blogs by Search Engine Journal.
#8 Live Video
It’s time to embrace live broadcasting. If you are attending an event – a seminar, conference or workshop – then use it as an opportunity to live broadcast with some of the great broadcasting tools that are available such as Periscope, Blab, Meerkat or Facebook Live (if you are lucky enough to have it). It’s also worth considering creating your own YouTube Channel and using this video social network and search engine to build an online community. I am currently working on DTI-TV and am re-purposing content for video sharing.
#9 Research & Writing
“The book is the new business card” according to some commentators. While it’s an expensive and time consuming business card, it certainly sets you apart from the competition and increases your credibility and trust. I published my first book last year on a niche area of law enforcement and social media and it has taken me to the United States in person and elsewhere on the social web where I collaborate with other influencers.
I also conduct research and use my blogs to publish this research which helps to keep me and my knowledge current.
When I am asked to speak at an event I undertake quite a bit of work in advance. I always start from scratch and develop a presentation, paper or pitch relevant to my audience. This allows me to garner new knowledge and combine it with my own experiences and practices. I usually live-tweet or live blog from these events and will follow up with a blog post right after as well.