The People Business – or – Why social media starts OFFLINE

My first website was a “local” arts & crafts blog. What I did not consider when starting my online business was that people would want to meet me outside the comfortable confines of the online space.

To me, online business was being safe & sound on my couch. Alone. Possibly in my PJs.

Meet? For coffee? In real life?

I’m an introvert, a bit shy, and not particularly socially skilled.

I tried to use my 6 month old infant as an excuse.

“Nope, can’t. I’ve got a baby.”

Of course, that doesn’t work when the people who want to meet up with you are moms themselves looking both to get out of the house and to get ahead with their dreams.

“Bring her along!” they’d say.

Luckily, their persistence forced me out of my comfort zone. Within the first few months of starting my business, I’d met several new friends and even taught my first workshop.

At first, the terror of meeting someone new and battling my idea of her expectations of me was all I could think about. I’d be sick to my stomach days ahead of a simple coffee date. As coffee date after craft show after workshop started to pile up, things became easier.

Practice makes perfect.

I learned that the only expectation I really needed to worry about was the expectation for me to learn about someone new, explore her story, and meet her in the moment. It didn’t matter if I was more or less than she thought I was or if I had strange interests or if I ordered an iced latte in the middle of winter. What was important was meeting then & there with shared purpose.

That took me about 18 months to really understand. But still, it happened!

By the time I started to master meeting new people, I realized that much of the “social networking” that was happening among people online was happening offline. My peers & mentors were meeting up at conferences, workshops, retreats, and just generally traveling around furthering their careers.

Cause & effect.

If I wanted to grow my business by expanding my network, I was going to have to get out of my house. And my state.

I took the leap. Last year, I made it a point to travel to every conference that truly interested me and embrace the strangeness of strangers. I flew to Portland, OR for World Domination Summit & Profit Catalyst. I took the bus to NYC more than a few times. I hopped a plane to LA, St Paul, Chicago, and San Diego. And I sprinkled in plenty of day trips.

I put a priority on surrounding myself with people who “get” what I’m all about.
Or people who should. Or people I just desperately wanted to understand myself.

Yes, it’s difficult to leave my child to travel. Yes, it’s difficult to pony up the money. Yes, it’s weird to be in a room with 500 people I don’t know.

But the benefits of meeting my clients, customers, and colleagues far outweighed any downsides.

I now have good friends – a support system – that span this country. Now we schedule Skype chats to stay in touch in between trips.

I have a better understanding of who my customers are and what their needs are. Cause they told me, over drinks.

The people I look up to in my industry know my name, my face, and what my work is all about. Cause they asked.

But best of all, I have the experience of seeing people encounter my work firsthand. I have the confidence that comes with the “aha! moments” that people take away from dinner or drinks. I feel the ease with which my work emanates.

That’s something I’ve not experienced in any other setting in just the same way. And so I keep leaving the house, I keep traveling, I keep meeting people.

In the end, online business is no different from offline business.

We are all in the people business. And if you’re going to be in the people business, you better understand your business in relation to people.

Click to tweet it!

Regularly interacting with your peers & potential customers allows you to consider these questions:

  • What is it like to talk about my business with people who care?
  • What aspects of what I offer appeal to people outside my current audience?
  • What appears most valuable about what I do?
  • How do others talk about me & my work?
  • What lights me up when I talk about my business with people who get it?
  • How is my story different from others stories?

Put away your excuses. Put on a sharp outfit and get out of the house. If you can, get in a plane, a train, or an automobile. Leave home behind — leave online in the dust.

Venture out to find the people who will enable you to make your business sing.


Sound like a plan? It’s not too late to join me for The Art of Earning LIVE. Find your own place in the You Economy with this intensive, intentional, and intimate experience. Take a minute to find out more.

The Great Engine of the You-Centered Economy: Media

Media is the great engine of the You-Centered Economy.

Why? We are all producers, writers, broadcasters, and personalities. Access to all forms of media has never been so open. You are at the center of media creation & media consumption.

Media is also a source of connection (to each other, to our communities, to the world) and a source of experience (trust me — watching True Blood is an experience). Meaning? Well, we’ll get to that.

Media is a unique entity in which we actually understand how we are both – constantly – creator & consumer. In the You-Centered Economy, this is true for all forms of commerce but it is less obvious. Media is a give & take of production, attention, and manipulation.

Chris Brogan has been considering what it means to be a “media channel” in 2012:

The ‘gee whiz’ has worn off, and now, if you’re looking to build professional value from this whole jumble of the social web, it’s important to start thinking like a TV station and a magazine and start building out content that takes advantage of that.

Right. So it used to be quite the marvel that you could create your own TV station all from your MacBook Pro. It’s not anymore. Now it’s your job. Your responsibility. Your livelihood.

Or maybe just a super fun pass time.

Either way, as Brogan said – the ‘gee whiz’ is gone.

In social media & online entrepreneurship, the ‘gee whiz’ has turned into formulas and proven techniques. It’s boring. It’s noise. I don’t want to read it.

What should be playing on your particular station? I write about what is currently inspiring me, nagging at me, or pissing me off. I’d like to read more of that from you. I want your analysis. I crave your insight.

For me, what adds “professional value” to this content is understanding my purpose & vision. It means I can take a story or inspiration and turn it into meaningful content at the drop of a hat. You get relevant posts that feel professional but immediate.

Use your own media channel to present professional passion. Click to tweet it!

Then you won’t be saying “Me! Me! Look at me!” to get my attention. Your content is already part of my attention because it’s what you’re paying attention to. I trust you.

Creating professional content doesn’t mean following a formula but it does mean understanding your purpose & vision.

Click to tweet that!

Creating professional content allows you to connect with your audience in a personal way.
They see into your psyche. They get how you think. They know how to relate to you. You’re not an Every(wo)man but you are in touch & in tune.

Creating professional content enables you to create an experience for your audience. Whether it’s an experience of that very moment right on the page or an experience that is formed over time outside your media channel, your work has the capacity to affect your reader & the way they experience the world. Affect them.

Creating professional content empowers you to imbue meaning into every aspect of your business.
Just as traditional media has provided channels for better understanding the way conventional news, trends, and entertainment create meaning in our lives, “new media” powers the meaning that drives our consumption. You suggest that a product, service, or application has a certain meaning and suddenly, it does.

Media, more than ever before, is helping us consume better.

True, you can listen to the hype. You can watch the ads. You can endure product placement after product placement. Or you can stop. And listen. Pay attention. Share what matters.

Media is now giving consumers more choice than they ever had before. We have the choice to put up with paid promotion. Or we can pay attention to media that educates us, entertains us, and connects us.

Media that educates, entertains, and connects is still media that we’re consuming. The media, in turn, is teaching us what to consume outside of the experience of the media. It is begging us to make lifestyle changes, associate with a community, and better understand our own role on the planet.

And, again I agree with Brogan, we have a greater responsibility to the media we consume:

1. Don’t just consume, absorb. Take it allllll in.
2. Share. And don’t just push the stumble, the retweet, etc, but give some value to the share by giving your points, adding your two cents, blogging a piece around it, etc. If you had time to read it, take the time to share it well.

If what we’re consuming – media or otherwise – contributes to a great relationship with the world we want to live in, it’s our responsibility to share that consumption with others. The more people we can bring into our communities of affinity, the better for us.

Share. And comment. Tell me why. Bring me into the fold. Connect me.

As you share, you are bumping up against those touchpoints: connection, experience, meaning. I need you to share with me. Connection, experience, meaning: that’s what we’re all looking for in this New Economy.

The context of our media consumption – and our general consumption – suddenly has a greater meaning. It’s part of our identity. It’s part of our network. It’s part of our movement.

Media: the great engine of the You-Center Economy.

We are in & of the media. We are creators. We are consumers.

The media drives our connection and our experience. It influences the meaning of what we pay attention to.

Don’t fear the media. Embrace it. But do so with purpose & vision. Do so in service. Do so with passion.

beyond social media: I’ve seen the future and it’s name is Google+

“How are you going to use Google+?” That’s the question on early adopters’ lips.

We have been programmed to look at each and every evolution of Web 2.0 as something to use, something that can be harnessed to do our bidding and serve our needs. The race to establish your profile, the mad hunt for followers, the not-so-social tactics for driving eyeballs back to your site… it’s all pretty familiar now.

Let me offer you a different thought about this new “platform:” Google+ is not just another evolution of Web 2.0 but a genuine step into the world of Web 3.0.

Web 3.0 has been defined as the Semantic Web, where the machines & algorithms understand us just as well as our friends and family. But I think we’re a ways off from having machines that truly comprehend the nuances of human communication. Instead, it appears that we’re entering an era of true integration with technology, at least in the connected class.

The tool that has become synonymous with search now offers a way to create a virtual representation of yourself.

Actually, that’s not quite right.

Your Google+ profile is a direct representation of who you are online. Nothing virtual about it.

You owe it to yourself to create the best “you” there as possible. Why? Google has already integrated itself into your life: Gmail, docs, calendar, maps… This isn’t about business versus personal, networking versus socializing. This is about the whole you, the well-rounded you.

And this is about what people find when they look for you.

Case in point, check out what pops up when I Google myself:

Yep, my G+ profile is listed above this very website. The one that bares my name! Now, I asked around and discovered that this isn’t yet the case for everyone. And, no doubt, if you haven’t yet activated a G+ account, this is not that case. But just how much longer is this going to be a new thang? Not long.

How you build out your profile, connections, +1’s, and comments will affect how the almighty G-machine understands you and that in turn will affect how real live human beings understand you.

The implications are vast.

How am I reacting to this new platform? Well, since I believe G+ represents a fundamental shift in how we integrate the ‘net into our total lives, I’m having a bit of an existential crisis! Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. But I feel pressure to create a compelling profile that avoids fluff, pitches, and blatant advertising.

I have confidence that I’m all I need to sell me – so how can I translate me into updates, links, and photos?

That’s the (multi) million dollar question.

I’m striving to create a stream of content that, when taken as a whole, invites people to learn more about me. On the flip side, I’m endeavoring to offer Google what it needs to offer me the best experience of the online world as possible.

That’s putting a lot of faith in a corporation. I think they deserve it. And they’ve done their best to earn it.

What are your thoughts on Google+? Are you using it yet – and, if so, how? And if you haven’t joined the party, are you hungry to give it a try?

Other smarty pants thoughts on Google+:


By the way, you can circle me up on Google+ by clicking here. And you can help me out immensely by clicking the +1 button below!

words without end – or – on the obfuscation of our digital language

There is a trend on the net today with which I’m rapidly approaching my boiling point.

Everywhere I go: words.

While there is much beautiful writing, many transformational stories, and an abundance of powerful thought, there is also a deep cavern of meaningless words on the internet. Words modifying words strung together with other words.

Glittery sparkles of fresh fun words.

See what I mean?

I can read a whole blog post or ebook and not know what was said. The words sound pretty – they fit a niche or target a market – but they don’t mean anything.

When I see words coupled in unusual ways, I drill down to understand what deeper meaning the author is trying to expose by using words in that way. This likely stems from my ever so brief introduction to deconstructionism.

Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Its apparently-solid ground is no rock, but thin air.
— J. Hillis Miller

Layering words, creating relationships between them, and generally making writing “prettier” doesn’t aid in others understanding you. It obfuscates your meaning.

Do you know what your meaning is?

Do you know what your trying to say?

Or are you applying word after word to your digital page in order to try to understand yourself better?

Strip down. Get bare. What do you really want to say?

I don’t mean this to be a lesson in writing; I am hardly qualified to teach.

I do, however, mean this to be a lesson in getting real with what you really want to say to the world. We talk often about finding our “authentic selves” but talk little about our “authentic message.”

You are what you think. You are also what you say.
Natalie Sisson

We get clearer about how we want to be in the world without getting clearer on how we want to engage the world.

We don’t exist as solitary beings. Even authentic ones. We exist as people in relationship to others – and our words are a very big way we understand those relationships.

To be clear, direct, and always mindful of our deeper meaning in language is one way to strengthen those relationships and better understand who we are.

Use beautiful, powerful words – but consider them carefully.

Some of my favorite wordsmiths – those with deep meaning & winsome words – are Kelly Diels | Alexandra Franzen | Elizabeth Howard | Kristen Tennant.

{ image by soukup }

how I hustled my way to fame & fortune with Twitter lists

Twitter by Pete Simon - click image for more information

This has been a great month. Not only has it been my best sales month to date but I have experienced feeling like a bona fide rock star, added several crazy smart & totally ambitious clients to my calendar, landed 2 stellar guest posts, and started to help organize 3 panel discussions with people I’m thrilled even know my name.

Like I said, mind-blowing month. And it’s not even over.

My word for 2011 is “hustle.”

[Hustling is] lots of work, lots of messaging.
Style with substance = impact.
— Chris Guillebeau, On Hustling

Hustling is doing great work and making sure people know about it. It makes your stomach feel a little weird but it gets easier the more you do it.

Hustling might require some reprogramming – it has for me – as you need to ignore the little voice inside your head that says “if it’s good enough, someone will find it.” ‘Cause that’s just not true. It’s a wide, wild world and you’ve got to shout it from the mountaintops when you have something to say.

So what about Twitter now?

Twitter is my platform of choice. Low barrier, fast & furious, easy to engage. I build relationships, I answer questions, I offer advice, I broadcast my message.

And I hustle.

At the end of last year, I put together a list of “movers & shakers.” It’s a private list – so don’t go looking for it! – and, while it includes some universally known rock stars, it is mostly made up of up & comers who are doing great work, looking for collaborative partners, and are still interested in building relationships.

Bloggers, speakers, authors, conference organizers, artists, agents, journalists. This list is stacked.

The list started small. Then it got bigger. And bigger. My list is constantly evolving – far from a closed clique of popular kids, it’s a growing, expanding love fest.

My list moves just fast enough that there’s always something new to see but nothing ever gets buried. That means I can always see what important-to-me people are saying: what questions they’re asking, what they need help with, what game-changing things they’ve written, what they had for lunch.

I respond. I retweet. I engage.

And most of the time, they tweet back.

Then there might be direct messages, blog comments, affiliate offers, joint ventures, interviews, email exchanges.

Twitter is the beginning but it’s certainly not the end of these growing relationships.

Twitter isn’t about tips, tricks, & tactics. It’s about communicating. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone to help others and to receive help. It’s about finding those people who light you up and not paying attention to those who darken your day. It’s about being fully present while staying sane in the constant barrage of information.

Twitter allows me to be the social me I want to be, pushing the “real” me closer & closer to that ideal.

I’m making friends, gaining partners, and doing some real heavy lifting.

All thanks to my Twitter list.

So if anyone tells you that Twitter isn’t worth the time, I’m telling you it’s all in how you use this fine tool.