Connecting and traveling 9000 kilometres at 25km p/h

When Telana called me last week about Ruan a cyclist who aimed to explore South Africa for 60 days. I thought it was an interesting story to follow and bring to you, along with the lessons it would come with.

Little did I know that the lessons would start sooner than he’d leave. I then had a meeting with the guys from Hotel Formula1, who later expressed some interest on following Ruan’s story. Before the week was over we had negotiated sponsorship for free accommodation for 10 days in 7 cities around South Africa.

Some lessons I got during the 5 days:

  • Connect people who want to meet.
  • Follow-through on an opportunity.
  • Help someone without expecting anything in return; it gives you a great feeling.
  • Build your reputation as a person of value.
  • Have genuine interest in other people than you want them to have in you.
  • A connection goes farther than a sale.

On Friday the 13th, without even realizing it was Friday the 13th, we met with the senior management team of Hotel Formula1. They all wanted to participate in the handover and you could see the genuine interest in them as well.

Ummm, what does that have to do with anything?

Under normal circumstances I would have been to a series of meetings offering a product and much later got a moment with the CEO, if ever.

Being a connector and finding opportunities to do it places you in a different position. You are no longer a company that is selling to a possible client, but a friend giving your client an opportunity further themselves.

Ruan will be travelling approximately 8 600 kilometers at 25 kilometers per hour over next 54 days. He’ll meet interesting people and along the way and there’ll surely be some more lessons over the next few days. I will be documenting some of the developments for you in the next few days.

Photo by: Ruan on Picassa

The postman delivered Linchpin

Ishita Gupta – Head Of Hoopla for Seth Godin sent a reply to an email I had sent about interviewing Seth Godin. To my astonishment, she requested me to send them my mailing address. “But I thought post died long before the archaic dialup connection, I mean this is Seth we’re talking about. He doesn’t write letters.” At least that’s the first thing I said to one of the guys at the office.

The mailman to much delight; delivered Seth Godin’s latest hardcover. And glossy offering called Linchpin – Are You Indespensable? It became a New York Times bestseller within it’s first 10 days of release.

We had an exclusive interview with him some weeks ago, where he spoke about the fundamental change in work and what the world has become. Basically, he writes about the choice to be indispensable at what you do. A choice to contribute where you are, to create art that is a gift to others in itself.

So every other appointment has been put hold, well sort of been slightly deferred, till I have completed this much coveted read.

Aside; there’s already a long queue of people waiting to lend it once I’m done. But they’ve been referred here, since it shouldn’t leave my sight. Not for a split second!

Thanks to Ishita Gupta and Seth Godin.

Niche audiences, building them and rock music

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, a book that delves into niches and what makes them, is an interesting read. I still haven’t finished yet. This post isn’t about my opinion on the book, but something it inspired.

Starting at 10pm till 1am in 2001, I would listen to a rock show on 5FM by Barney Simon. He played both local small bands and some criticized international artists. The ‘Night Zoo’, as the show was called, was only the place you could hear Marilyn Manson during the same week he released an album.

With the world calmly snoring away, on weekdays from Monday to Thursday, Barney was building a community, a niche and a following.

Create a community, not just numbers

Chris Anderson writes about how the internet creates small audiences that become even smaller but create markets in themselves. These smaller niches within others, he refers to as The Long Tail. In a nutshell! What caught my attention is how Barney built his following among bands and fans through content, not hits.

Knowing your audience and becoming a sought-after name creates a niche for you, where there wasn’t one before. To keep people awake, especially after 10pm and grow your listenership, this had to be an exceptional show. And it was!

It was content that kept me going back week after week after week, till Barney left the station in 2002.

As the conversation develops around your idea, your name grows an even larger following. Communities take ownership of your cause and take it upon themselves to spread it.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as you please. – Mark Twain

Barney knew the rules of radio, had applied them for 20 years and broke almost every single one.

Trying to appeal to a large audience, among other things, chokes the essence of your message.  Barney knew what his audience required and never played pop as part of his show. In fact, he was one of the few radio personalities who candidly criticized pop music.

It’s not a popularity contest but the ability to find a balance between making profits (selling ads on radio) and maintaining influence as a credible source.

What do you think causes ideas to ripple in time and gets people talking?

Photo by Amped Photography on Flickr

What makes you an influencer?

Image by: Clarky The Lion

Being an influential entrepreneur has been a target of mine for a while. When you are an influencer; people listen to what you have to say, act on it and that changes your company’s profitably.

What makes you influential? What makes 4000 people retweet your posts? Why would people knock down your down because you are selling a product? Not the next guy.

At first I thought it was:

–         Money

–         Friends in high places

–         That huge contract

All of them are misconceptions. These guys make money because they influencers, which spills over to the contracts and other benefits.

I have been fortunate enough to meet quite a few agents of change, through NetwebTv and the NetWeb Event. The common things among most of them are:

  • · They share freely – lessons, experiences and contacts
  • · They focus their attention on you and drive conversation toward you not themselves.
  • They always leave you with a new lesson.
  • · They never talk about their accomplishments unless asked.
  • · They are connectors – most contacts I got, were through them.
  • · They want to build you.
  • They get more business because they are influential, not the other way.

This is the brief list of attributes that connect the non-conformist agents of change. The ones I’ve been following at least.

What makes you influential? Add to the list.