Deborah Oster Pannell is a freelance writer and editor. Her company, Project Mavens (http://projectmavens.com) is a content branding firm specializing in collaborative partnerships with authors, artists, entertainers, healers, advocates and other entrepreneurs. She develops web content, social media campaigns, live events, books and other creative projects. Her online portfolio can be found at https://projectmaven.contently.com/
You’ve created a beautiful event. You’ve got a wonderful venue with a great DJ, the food and drinks are going to be fabulous, the decor looks wonderful, and you’ve even put together some great swag bags for your guests. Here are a few things you can do that will take your event to another level:
It’s a networking event, right? The more your attendees connect with one another, the better. Here’s how you can help ensure that the right people meet one another. Start by doing a little advance research on your attendees. Gathering the right information from them when they register is a great start. In addition to finding out where they work and what position they hold, consider finding out what type of people they are interested in meeting. This way, you can act more as a matchmaker for your guests.
When people arrive, be prepared to introduce them to folks who may be of interest to them. Not only will this be a great icebreaker for people who might not otherwise speak to one another, but you’ll be stimulating conversations that have more of a potential to lead to actual relationships. Make sure to steer journalists to the key players and featured guests. Acquainting yourself with the needs and priorities of your guests before they arrive is vital to your ability to be a good host.
It’s always nice when planners anticipate unexpected circumstances that might hinder their guests’ ability to enjoy themselves at their event. Make sure the bathrooms are well stocked with hand lotion, breath mints, female sanitary products and air freshener. Make sure you have an emergency kit available, complete with first aid supplies, safety pins and other convenience items. Familiarize yourself with local parking facilities, bus stops and train stations, as well as area merchants and other services that might be of interest to your guests such as pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and late night restaurants and bars, for those wishing to continue the party after your event is over. Try to be prepared for as many contingencies as possible.
These days people have as many variations in their diet as there are types of cuisine. But some folks actually have some very serious restrictions, such as meat, gluten or nuts. You may not be able to take care of everyone’s idiosyncratic needs when planning your menu, but you can certainly make an effort to cover some of the major categories. Make sure to offer some vegetarian, nut-free and gluten free options. If possible, make sure that dishes including shellfish or nuts are clearly labeled. You’d be surprised how much people can appreciate this kind of attention to detail.
HANDWRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTES
In a society that’s becoming increasingly automated, receiving a handwritten thank you note is something of an anachronism. But in addition to being a quaint throwback to an earlier time of civility, it’s actually an opportunity to personally connect with your guests in a way that may distinguish you and your organization from others. Even if you don’t have the inclination or budget to send out multiple pieces of old-fashioned mail, consider sending some manner of individualized notes to each of your guests. A personal email is a refreshing change from the auto response generated by many registration programs and may lead to more authentic and fruitful interactions going forward.
This is a topic that hits very close to home for me, as I imagine it does for many of you. If you’re reading this, then chances are you saw the link on Twitter or Facebook, or maybe LinkedIn. You probably check in regularly with at least two or more social media platforms for business, and most likely for personal use as well. How do you navigate these platforms in a way that keeps your professional side intact while still allowing for personal and recreational use? Here are some things to keep in mind.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PRIVACY
I’m going to say this a different way. Privacy is an illusion. If you have things to say that you do not want to be shared in public, then say them in person to the person to whom you’re speaking. Or write them a letter (I’m talking about taking a pen to paper.) If you are posting anything online, it is not private, regardless of your privacy settings. Once your words or images are released into the digital world, you no longer have control over them. Perhaps you can trust everyone in your private online circles, and if so, congratulations. But the fact is, the walls between private circles and public consumption are thin, and they are being breached more and more frequently all the time.
Does this mean you should be living in a state of fear and paranoia? No, it just means that if you want to preserve your professional reputation, you should refrain from bad mouthing people on Facebook, or making any other types of disparaging statements that might come back to haunt you in the future.
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY PERSONAL FACEBOOK PAGE?
Of course, your personal Facebook page is a place where you should feel comfortable letting it all hang out. Voice your political opinions, post raunchy videos and edgy jokes if you feel like it. If you stand by your choices and they speak to who you are as an individual, then go ahead and let your freak flag fly. Just know that they are now part of what could become public record. We’ve all seen the way Hillary Clinton was raked over the coals. The higher your level of public exposure, the more you will be subject to scrutiny. Just be prepared.
UNTANGLING THE WEB
At any given moment, I work on a number of different projects, most of which involve some level of social connectivity. When I’m out there promoting one client’s book or helping another client gain visibility for an upcoming event, I’m always on the lookout for appropriate people to reach out to or connect with, as I’m navigating the web. Often, due to the nature of my business, my clients have overlapping interests, and I start to see many interconnections as well as opportunities for collaboration. I may start out working on one project, and see an opportunity to link up with another one.
To make matters even more complicated, these days I try to only take on work that is personally meaningful or exciting to me. Also, the style of writing that I often employ is very immediate, from a first-person perspective. I often inject a personal note into content that I’m developing – take for instance, this very blog post! As you can imagine, it can get a little confusing sometimes. I have to regularly step back and examine my choices to make sure I am staying on track with each project, fulfilling the goals of my clients and not allowing my subjective opinions to cloud my professional judgment.
The point here is that the internet is an easy place to find endless distractions that may well sidetrack you away from your central goals. Scheduling is key. Even though your projects may overlap with one another as well as with your personal interests, try and allot specific time blocks to working on one thing at a time. If you see opportunities to connect with other people, explore other networking possibilities or investigate new ideas, keep a little running list of things to do later. Once you achieve your stated goals, you’ll be able to move onto the new things that come up. Also, keep your personal web surfing, picture sharing and commenting on your friends’ posts to limited blocks of time that don’t interfere with your work. You’ll be tempted to drift into this personal territory, so this may be the biggest challenge of all.
Social media can be a great place for expanding your community and building out a market for your services and products or those of your clients. It’s also a tricky place to navigate if you have any tendencies towards being distracted, which these days, most of us do. It seems to be the nature of the beast. If you have any particular strategies that help you keep your business navigating separate from your personal web surfing, please share them here! I’m sure we could all use some good ideas!
Supporting a charity is a great way to add another dimension to any event. There’s great potential in leveraging the power of an existing group of people (your attendees) to raise money for a worthy cause. Whether your event begins with a charitable purpose or seeks to add that as an element later on, there are certain principles that apply. Let’s look at some of the basic parameters for ensuring that everyone gets the most out of a good charitable partnership.
1) Pick a Meaningful Charity
This may seem obvious, but it’s really important to find a charity that is meaningful to both you and your client. Nothing drives a good partnership better than personal passion. When everyone is truly motivated to support a specific cause, enthusiasm drives creativity to higher levels, people are more apt to be cooperative and flexible, and where applicable, everyone works that much harder to raise funds.
A few years back, I worked on a corporate event celebrating the opening of the New York offices of a regional PR firm. They wanted to do something that would express how grateful they were to be in NYC. We paired them up with Million Trees NYC, a uniquely New York initiative of the NYC Parks Department and the New York Restoration Project. The folks from Million Trees supplied printed bags, buttons and other promotional materials for attendees, we included potted trees as part of the event décor, and the client made a donation to the project. It was a small but successful collaboration.
2) Integrate the Charitable Elements into Your Event
It’s one thing when your event is purely a charitable fundraiser, and the charity is your client. Gala events like that are fairly straightforward. However, when your event is more along the lines of a conference, a trade show or even a performance, it helps to have some thematic connection between the charity partner and the event itself.
In the same way that Million Trees NYC became the focus of the client’s desire to build a substantive relationship with New York City, the charity that you partner with should have some connection to the client’s identity or current goals. In a conference, the nature of the charity should be linked to the theme of the conference. If appropriate, spokespeople from the charity should be present to make some remarks and/or be available for questions. Wherever possible, coordinate gift giveaways, door prizes or auction items with the charity and its focus.
3) Think in Terms of Building a Broader Community
Charitable campaigns work best when they cultivate relationships over time. If you want to develop a substantive connection with your charitable partner and the people from whom you are requesting support, try and think about ways that you can maintain your relationship to this cause over time. Perhaps institute a fundraising campaign that launches at your event and then continues on into the future. Or, consider starting it well in advance of your event and announcing the final results to your attendees. In either case, people should feel like they are part of an expanded circle that includes all participants. In this way, you are cultivating genuine connections that have the potential to remain productive beyond the boundaries of your event.
4) Remember to Co-Brand
It’s important to think of you and your charitable partner as collaborators for the sake of leveraging one another’s power and reach. Remember Aristotle’s saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It’s true. When you team up with an outside organization, you can pool many of your resources, including your social media reach. Coordinate with one another on messaging, including the use of specific hashtags. Make sure to tag one another and comment publicly on each other’s posts. Make sure that all press releases and other PR outreach brand all participants equally. The stronger your public facing alliance, the more traction you are likely to get in press coverage and overall buzz.
If you’re in business, then you know the importance of meeting people and building new relationships. These days, you’ve got an abundance of networking events and meetups to choose from, where you’ll come across countless potential clients and collaborators. If you’re like me, you may find yourself getting very excited when you meet interesting people with whom you have the potential of building a business relationship, or maybe even a friendship.
OK, hold on there. Just because you can see the potential in a relationship doesn’t mean the other person is on the same page. This is where you are going to have to employ some patience and restraint. If you need to look those words up, do it now. They are going to become your best friends.
Vision vs. Delusion
You can see the possibilities – the way your vision perfectly aligns with your new business friend. You work in the same industry, you’re both at similar levels of development in your career, your skills are complementary, you share similar philosophies, perspectives, goals…
Before you start mapping out the terms of your partnership agreement, though, you’d better remember one thing. A relationship is a two-way street. What you have in your mind is your own set of ideas, potentially a great vision. However, if you build it out completely without consulting the other person, then sadly, your vision is more of a delusion. Don’t get so carried away on your own wave of enthusiasm that you forget about the necessity of the other person not only buying into but co-creating the plans you are making.
I remember one time, I was introduced by a friend to a client of his, the head of a creative agency in a big Midwestern city. She and I met over drinks at a little gathering he had arranged to celebrate their new partnership. We became instant besties, as I learned that we had many similar interests, and it was clear that there was some potential in us teaming up together.
I got so excited that I went home that night and wrote her a long letter, including my resume, a bunch of links to different articles I had written, and several ideas for how we might work together. I never heard back. Now, you may say, she should have at least acknowledged receipt of my message. And who knows, perhaps she never got my email? Well, I did check back a week later to make sure. Still no response. My thought – I came on way too strong!
It’s All in the Chemistry
We’re all excited about our own ideas, our own dreams, so we have to be careful that we’re not sucking all the oxygen out of the room talking about ourselves. Business partnerships, like any relationships, are as much about listening as they are about talking. Finding that balance isn’t always easy. And the reality is, sometimes, as much as you’d like it to happen, you may not be a good fit with someone who seems like a good match on paper.
Sometimes we may feel a greater sense of urgency to connect than other times. Maybe you really need to generate some income. Or perhaps you find yourself excited by someone else’s energy. Or maybe you just want something new to happen… In any case, try to remember that sometimes too much confidence or enthusiasm can come across as overly intense or narcissistic, and can actually be a turnoff. Just like in dating, sometimes it pays to play a little hard to get.
Live tweeting is a great way to stimulate interest in an event as it’s happening, and it also offers multiple, interlocking opportunities for branding and exposure. Let’s have a look at some basic principles for live tweeting several different kinds of events: a business conference, an art show and a music festival.
Live Tweeting a Business Conference
You’re sitting in the house during major presentations or plenary sessions. The speaker is delivering a talk, or perhaps moderating a panel discussion. If you’re live tweeting, then your goal is to deliver brief, summary statements that capture key elements of the speaker’s message, mood or intention. Your goal, is to deliver some fascinating tidbits that will make readers wish they were there.
But that’s only half of it. You also need to make sure you brand that speaker and the event using a combination of hashtags and twitter handles that will be recognizable to other event attendees as well as people not in attendance who may be interested in both. These days, many forward thinking conference organizers and presenters will provide both twitter handles and hashtags before and even during a presentation. But if you want to do some serious PR damage, prep beforehand and come up with a list of event and presenter hashtags as well as handles so you don’t have to waste any time looking them up and miss key moments. Wherever possible, include pictures!
Live Tweeting an Art Show
When you report from any art exhibit, you have the opportunity to share some personal insights, albeit brief, about work that impacts you, and the artists who create it, along with some compelling images. If you’re lucky enough to be present for an artist’s or curator’s talk, as I was this past spring during FLUX Art Fair, then you’ll be able to channel their thoughts directly to a wider audience.
Keep in mind that when reporting from an art exhibit, just as in the conference presentations I mentioned above, your best guide is going to be the ideas that excite you the most. Social media, and platforms like Twitter in particular, run on the strength of personal connections. If your messaging is generic or salesy, it’s likely to be overlooked in the flood of posts flowing through the average viewer’s page. But first hand observations, jokes, or messages that carry a measure of emotional authenticity will more likely connect you and the subjects of your tweets to your readers.
And BTW. Instagram. This is a great platform to consider for anything visual. Starting with posting a photo, Instagram also works with hashtags, and these days, most smart branders use the same hashtags across the board in all platforms.
Live Tweeting a Music Festival or Gig
The same rules apply to a musical event as they do to any arts event. Connect with your followers, and try to expand the audience for your tweets by using recognizable handles and hashtags. If you do a good job at conveying the awesomeness of the experience in real time, you may even draw in more attendees!
If you have been hired directly by the event organizer as their official voice, then chances are you are functioning via the back end of their platforms as a mouthpiece for their messaging. However, if you are freelancing, for any live tweeting that you do, by sharing your own impressions, you stand to gain followers and forge some nice connections with the folks about whom you are tweeting.
Whether you are tweeting for a fee or for fun (hopefully both!), know that any time you drive online traffic to specific people or events, you are also generating good will. Think about that as you create your messages, and make sure to follow up appropriately (i.e. not spammy) with folks afterwards. You’d be surprised at what kind of new relationships you may begin to develop.
When choosing a venue for your event, there are a number of factors to consider. Of course, budget is nearly always a determining factor, so you’ll be wanting to look at the cost. However, other considerations can be equally as important and should not be overlooked. Here are a few points to remember:
How easy will it be for your guests to reach the destination? If this is a business event, you’ll want to make the trip as hassle-free as possible, to ensure maximum attendance. You may be able to entice wedding guests to trek out to the country for your nuptials, but attendees to a networking event, launch party or even a business conference prefer a central location with a clear path to get there, or they may just opt to skip it. Even if they’re required to be there as part of their job, you don’t want folks arriving cranky or late because the journey there was a big drag. Make sure you choose a spot with easy directions and good parking, or if you’re in a big city, with close proximity to public transportation.
Yep. These days, fast, dependable wifi service is one of the key factors to ensure a successful event. From registration apps, onsite social media outreach and live streaming to research and general communications, you are going to need access to the web before, during and after your event. Do what you have to do, but make sure that your venue has good wifi service. It’s essential.
REQUIREMENTS AND LIMITATIONS
Make sure you are clear about what stipulations your venue has regarding what they will or will not allow you to do. Some venues have lists of approved vendors for food, production and other services, and you will be required to stick to the list. Make sure you are approved to bring your own people if you have a certain caterer in mind.
Most venues have specific requirements regarding event insurance. Don’t wait until the last minute to secure your policy. You don’t want to be caught with insufficient or incorrect coverage, as some venues will actually refuse entrance for you to set up without having already given them the proper paperwork. (Imagine that nightmare!)
Be very clear about the technical specifications regarding entryways, size and location of elevators and electrical capacity. Make sure you know what you are or are not allowed to do with regard to painting, taping or otherwise altering walls, floors and other surfaces. Understanding the venue’s policies in this regard will save you a lot of time, money and general frustration on the back end, particularly if it means avoiding extra charges to repair preventable damage.
Is the space a good fit for the type of event you are planning and the people who will be attending? This is a determination that you should be making together with your client. Understanding their needs and the type of atmosphere they are trying to create is an essential part of any event planner’s job. Of course, your client will have definite opinions, but depending on the depth of their event experience, these opinions may rely more on esthetics. You will also need to weigh in on logistics and technical details, as these are equally important considerations.
Event planning. It’s an exciting field! All the glitz and glamour, the parties, the crowds, the food, the drinks, the pictures…
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It can be all that, but like any good iceberg, what you see is only a small fraction of what lies beneath the surface of the often murky, often choppy waters. Not that I mean to be discouraging. Au contraire.
Like so many other event professionals, I came to this industry from a background in theater. So I love a good show. And that is exactly what you are producing when you are planning an event – a show. But to grab yet another analogy from the theater, you’re going to need to decide if you are producing a Broadway musical, a one-woman performance piece, an educational play for kids or an EDM festival in the desert. Choices, choices…
So what kind of an event planner do you want to be? Do you want to arrange corporate meetings and conferences? Do you see yourself planning weddings and bar mitzvahs? Or how about gala fundraising events? Maybe you want to be a nightclub party promoter? Or perhaps fashion shows, art shows, trade shows or product launches are more up your alley…
Here are a few options to consider in this vast and exciting industry where you’d like to make a home for yourself:
If you are looking for a relatively straightforward business-minded experience, then you may be well suited to work on corporate events. This type of event planning is often undertaken by in-house personnel within companies. You may be an administrative staff person tasked with planning yearly shareholder meetings or educational conferences. You may work for a hospital, planning a medical conference. Larger events may engage the services of outside planners. Typically, meetings like this follow an orderly agenda that runs on a schedule. You’ll tackle all the basic elements of an event including registration, technical production and timing. As with all events, you’ll want to make sure that things run smoothly, there is good communication between the planning team, the venue, your vendors and presenters, and that your attendees are having a good time.
WEDDINGS AND BAR/BAT MITZVAHS
These types of social events are an industry unto themselves. They can range from modest ceremonies to multi-million dollar extravaganzas. As you are dealing directly with families, the dynamics can get very tricky. Emotions run high, and you have to be able to keep a cool head to navigate last minute changes and crises. As with corporate events, scheduling is typically a key priority, although the participants may be a little more difficult to wrangle than in corporate events. Be prepared for high demands, last minute changes and unexpected problems, as well as extreme joy and unbridled celebration.
TRADE SHOWS AND EXHIBITS
These large scale shows require extensive planning and coordination. The number of moving parts expands dramatically with the presence of exhibitors, who, depending on the size of the show, can number into the hundreds or more. With so many different people’s needs to attend to, good communication and diplomacy skills are a must. Attention to detail is also really important, as each exhibitor’s booth or display area is its own important little universe. These types of shows span every industry, from business and manufacturing to food, fashion, art and more. You may find yourself drawn to one specific area of this very large category of events – follow your instincts and go to where you feel the deepest connection.
* * * * * * * * *
The event planning industry has become increasingly specialized, with planners developing reputations around producing specific types of events. You’ll find that the more you focus on the kinds of events you love to produce, the more your reputation will grow, and you will begin to develop your own niche. If you’re just starting out, you should definitely seek out opportunities to volunteer your services at the types of events you think you’d be interested in producing. Having the first-hand experience of working the events from start to finish will give you a good idea as to whether or not you are suited for that particular segment of our industry.
If you had your pick of any clients, assuming they all paid well and on time, you’d probably want to work with the ones who were the most fun. As any business person knows, having clients with whom you enjoy a smooth working relationship can make a world of difference to your quality of life. Here are a few ideas on how to pick the clients that will not only up your happiness quotient, but will contribute to you building a strong and distinct brand for your business.
Don’t Be Afraid to Specialize
I used to work in the field of holistic health, managing an acupuncture office. Over the years, I became acquainted with many complementary healthcare practitioners. We had a list of people we would refer patients to for specific complaints – sports injuries, fertility, digestive problems, addiction. Every acupuncturist I know has a certain group of conditions that he or she feels drawn to treating. They develop a resonance and a rhythm with treating those conditions. Their patients recommend their friends and colleagues who suffer with similar symptoms, and they also receive good treatment. And that’s how practitioners develop a specialty.
The same is true for event planners and other service related entrepreneurs. On paper, ten planners may be equally suited on a technical level to manage a big event. The reality is, each one of those planners has a different temperament and a distinct set of skills that suit them to working with specific types of people and situations. Learn what you are specifically good at doing. Perhaps you enjoy creating really beautiful, intimate events in people’s homes. Maybe you are better suited to large scale business conferences. Follow your successes, and you will begin to understand who your people are, and how to deliver what they want.
Go for the Ideal Situation
We often hear talk of pursuing our passion, as a kind of mantra for creating our ideal business. This is not just hyperbole – it’s a practical method to developing a successful enterprise. Years ago, I learned this fundamental rule of documentary filmmaking: If you don’t absolutely HAVE to make this film (like, it’s burning in your soul), don’t do it. Because your project is going to be an uphill battle with one challenge after another, and if you aren’t truly committed to making it happen, you’re going to give it up once the pressure hits.
Running your own business is kind of like that. Every time you think you know what you’re doing, you will be faced with a new challenge, a new learning curve, a new test of your will to succeed. Why stack the deck against yourself with clients who are either unpleasant to be around or have a project that does not excite you? Unless you are being paid a boatload of money, have nerves of steel, and a really great way to blow off steam at the end of the day that doesn’t land you in jail, detox or family court (in which case, more power to you), then I suggest that you set your sights on working with clients who you really enjoy and whose projects you find stimulating in some way.
Pay Attention to the Dynamics of Your Relationship
Some clients are looking for a collaborator. Some clients are looking for hired help. Make sure you understand the difference, and that you and your client are on the same page. This one is really important. As long as you understand the role you are being hired to play, and you are cool with what is being asked of you, then things will go well. However, if you go into a working situation thinking you have a collaborative partner, but your client is more interested in just having you complete their checklist, then you are going to be in for plenty of conflict.
* * * * * * *
There’s nothing worse than having unhappiness embedded in the fabric of your work. Remember, as much as you are trying to get clients to hire you, you are also looking to choose the best clients for you. Setting goals about the kind of people you want to deal with and the types of projects you wish to undertake is an essential part of taking control of your business.
In the event planning world, as in most other entrepreneurial industries, the field is crowded with people trying to make a name for themselves. With so many people doing the same type of work that you do, how can you distinguish yourself from the pack and become known for the unique things you have to offer?
Focus on Doing Your Best
One of my favorite recent quotes on this very subject comes from the conversation I had with magician and mentalist, Max Major, at this year’s techsytalk LIVE. When I asked him what made him unique, he had this to say: “Well, I could tell you the differences between me and other people, but the bottom line is that actually it doesn’t matter…You’re not competing against someone else. Someone isn’t hiring you or them, they’re choosing to work with you because they have a personal relationship with you and believe in the work you do, so you do good work, and you have your own client base. It has nothing to do with other people.”
The most basic way to shine in your industry is to do fantastic work. Plain and simple. We can talk about your website, your social media platforms, your beautiful graphics and your messaging until we’re blue in the face. But if your work stinks, who really cares? The rest is just window dressing. Do your best. Let your good work speak for itself.
Build Authentic Relationships
When people choose to work with you, they understand that you are going to be logging some hours together. This means they’d better like spending time with you, or at the very least, be able to get along well enough to negotiate terms, discuss job parameters, and depending on the nature of your work, collaborate and/or problem solve as needed.
Successfully navigating these kinds of experiences with a client is the foundation of building a strong professional relationship. Keeping a positive mood, managing changes and unexpected circumstances with patience and a cool head and in general, keeping the stress level to a minimum are all skills that will help you in this regard. If you find yourself getting into arguments with clients or experiencing frequent or uncomfortable moments of disagreement, then you may have to brush up on some of your interpersonal skills.
It may seem like overstating the obvious to say this, but if people don’t like you, they probably won’t want to work with you. Unless you are the most brilliant and sought after person in your field, in which case, you don’t really need to be reading this article, do you…
Accentuate Your Quirks
Be yourself, in all of your strangeness. To really shine in this world, you’ll need to embrace who you are and be proud to share it with others. No one expects you to be perfect. There’s no such thing, anyway. We’re all a little weird, and hopefully we’re all growing and learning, all the time. The important thing is that you engage others with confidence so that they can truly evaluate what you bring to the table. Once you decide to move forward as the real you, all of that other stuff – the graphics, the messaging, the online identity – it will all flow naturally. Give it a try and see what happens. You might be surprised at the results!
By now you’ve all gotten the memo that having lots of key words in your online content is no longer the golden ticket to achieving robust SEO. Sure, it’s part of the picture, but certainly not the whole thing. At least as important as the long and short tails is the level of engagement you produce with your blog posts, status updates and tweets.
MAKING STRONG CONNECTIONS WITH YOUR VISITORS
If you want people to be able to find you online, then you better be generating some conversations in social media. This together with the relevant search terms embedded in your copy is the combination that will get you top placement when people look for you on Google or other search engines. This means that the content you create on your business website is so good that people are commenting on it, sharing the link with their friends and colleagues and then talking about it some more on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
Gone are the days when your website could feature a company statement, staff bios, client list, a couple of pictures and call it a day. These days, people expect something a little more thought provoking or interactive, and rightfully so! There are more options now for engaging your site’s visitors than ever before.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONTENT
You have the power to set the tone on your website, through the type of content you choose to feature there. For example, the content can be authoritative and informative, such as a white paper. If you want to be known for your industry expertise, then consider authoring a white paper that lets people in on a specific aspect of your industry. Choose a topic that excites you and has the potential to attract the type of people you’d welcome as clients. Demonstrating expertise is important for high level consulting positions and speaking engagements.
Understand that the content you share is a conversation starter. If your business depends on a more personal level of interaction, you may want to develop blog posts that are anecdotal in nature. Sharing your own experiences is a great way to find people with common interests who are likely to interact easily with you. This kind of relateability is helpful to cultivate if your service is individualized, such as graphic or interior design, healing or medical care, or private event planning. The people who hire you will want to feel connected with you in some way that fosters trust and understanding, two key elements in building a relationship with your client.
If you are in any kind of creative field, then your website is your opportunity to show the world your best stuff. Think of your site as your online gallery. Offer your visitors an immersive experience that they won’t soon forget! Images, video, music, audio links – honestly, there’s no limit to the type of content you can share.
Don’t be afraid to take risks! You want to generate a buzz that will get people talking in all the places they hang out online. Use humor! Be surprising! The rules of online engagement are changing all the time. You never know what is going to catch people’s attention, so you might as well have some fun experimenting, especially if you are offering innovative products or services. If you want to distinguish yourself online, take the time to make your website shine with material that speaks to the heart of you and your company. It may be an electronic medium, but you still have to get someone interested enough in you and your services that they want to have a real life conversation with you.