Figuring Out Social Networking

What is Twitter? And I’m on Facebook–but what’s really the point? I’m sick of people “poking” me and adding things to my “fishtank”.

I hear you. I really do. Is social networking really necessary? And does it help us as we build our speaking ministry?

Well, the quick answer is Yes. And No. Let me explain:

1. We need a web presence

When someone goes to hire a speaker, here’s the usual steps they take. First, they desperately ask everyone they know if anyone has heard of a good speaker in the area. They’re always glad when someone gives a name. But do they email the person? Do they phone them? No, not yet. That comes later. The first thing they do, instead, is either visit their website or Google them.

In other words, they do online research. If you want to be hired to speak, you need a web presence. It’s more important for a speaker than a writer even, because most people won’t hire a speaker unless they have some sort of a connection, or some confirmation that this person is capable, professional, well-known, and confident. Your web presence, then, must show that you are these things.

What do you need for a web presence? A blog is perfectly sufficient, as long as it has a nice picture of you and a list of your speaking topics. WordPress works better than Blogger in this capacity because WordPress allows you to have extra pages, so that you can list your topics, or explain more about yourself.

On a blog you can also share your thoughts. You don’t have to blog about speaking; simply share thoughts that would be relevant to those you are speaking to. For instance, if you want to be hired to speak to moms and tots groups, make sure that you blog about issues relevant to moms with young children at home. If you want to speak to seniors’ groups, blog about these issues. Provide interesting content so that it shows you are actively thinking and engaging about the issues that matter to your target audience.

A web presence can also include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. To be hired by a church, Facebook still seems to be key. Twitter, while it’s wonderful for networking, isn’t as widely used for those outside the online world (ie. those who are on women’s committees at churches). Facebook, though, is quite common. Making friends on Facebook, then, and mentioning your new talks that you’re developing, or the places you’re speaking, lets others know what you are up to, and best of all helps others to think of you as a speaker. Update your status frequently to pertain to your speaking ministry, so that when your friends are asked if they know a speaker, they will automatically think of you!

2. Don’t let Social Media Take Over

That being said, social media can too easily replace our speaking efforts. Yes, we need to network. Yes, we need to build a web presence. But we also need to do some good old-fashioned speaking. We need to develop talks, network face to face with those who make decisions in women’s ministry committees, and we need to deliver talks (even free talks) as we’re starting out. If you spend all your time blogging or building friends on Twitter, you may find that you’re popular online, but that popularity doesn’t translate into speaking engagements.

You may end a day feeling productive, because you’ve connected with all kinds of Christian women, and you’re written some very insightful posts, but you haven’t translated that into the real world. Our social networking has to be tied into our real world efforts. It can’t replace it.

If you want to speak face to face, you need to do some face to face events and you need to get to know people face to face. Call up your local Christian radio station and offer to do a quick two minute segment on how to simplify Christmas, or on how to woo your mate this Valentine’s Day. Call up a large church and offer to do a twenty minute talk for their moms’ group to break in the new year. Call up a large church and offer to do a 20 minute inspirational talk for their seniors’ group on how to share your faith. Speak for free for a while, record yourself, and build word of mouth. Collect testimonials.

Then turn around and blog about these events. Post clips of your audio talks online. Put it in your Facebook status. Ask people to sign up for your inspirational newsletter.

Focus your efforts so they overlap and coordinate with real life, not so they replace it. Don’t ever spend so much time online that you have no time to do the real work of speaking.

It’s a tough balance. I struggle with this immensely. But I know God has called me to speak, and that means getting up from my computer occasionally. Maybe it’s time for you to get up, too!

If you want to learn more about building an online community, drawing readers to your blog, or growing key Facebook and Twitter followers, my courses on “Building Your Online Community” are so valuable! Listen in to the teleseminar, complete with a handout, here, or investigate my e-course! The e-course comes with a module that will teach you how to throw an online party for yourself. I did it last February and sold $1200 worth of books in one day! Find out more here.

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One Response

  1. Sheila, good post and reminder for all speakers. The social community can be a time waster or it can be something of real value. Many professionals look at it as an opportunity to “outpost” and draw people to their website for more in-depth information and contact.

    Like anything, it’s a tool to be used with balance and care.

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