involve + engage: connecting your people to your message

Last week, we introduced our topic of the month – thought leadership – and we covered the very basics of emerging as a thought leader. This week, we’re talking people. Your people, more specifically. You’ve got to know who they are, where they’re hanging out (on- and off-line), how to connect with those “out of your circle” people, and when to share the love (and the mic). The point of the whole thing is to be out there, in the public, sharing your thoughts and improving the world, yo. So, let’s start making that happen. 


pinpoint (who and where Your People are) 

If you read any of these blogs, you probably know what we’re going to talk about next. Yep – figuring out who your audience is. It’s really easy to just start pushing content out there. It’s difficult to keep doing that day after day and not see results because (gasp) you haven’t been talking to the right people. So, let’s avoid that. Really put faces on the people that exist in your space.  

Who benefits the most from your message?  

Beyond that, who do you want to be listening to what you have to say?  

Are those people currently interested in what you have to say? 

While we don’t have quantifiable numbers when it comes to how much better answering these questions makes your product, it’s undeniable that knowing who you’re speaking to enables you to create better (read: more effective) content. It just makes it better. Don’t waste your time. Figure out who’s interested and who your product appeals to. This is literally the most important thing for you to do before you do any other sort of thinking. 


network (face-to-face) 

This hasn’t gone out of style. The most effective connections you make are the personal ones, out from behind the screens (iPhone, tablet, laptop, desktop…). So get out there! Jump on MeetUp, EventBrite, etc. and see what’s going on in your area. Join a Chamber of Commerce or a Rotary Club. Volunteer. Pass out business card after business card. Get together for coffee with people who might never hire you or buy your product but who are interested in what you do and know people who need your services. This is a pretty substantial investment in time – but the brand awareness is unparalleled. Like any sage investor would tell you, diversify your portfolio. 

What sort of networking provides the biggest bang for your buck? What is the biggest bang for your buck, in the first place? 

What sort of outreach yields the highest quality, long-term relationships? 

What sort of engagement is best for brand awareness? 

Once your feet are fully wet, you might want to take a stab at owning your own networking space. You can plan education or networking events of your own. This quadruples your ROI as you both brand and own the conversation about the event through its lifecycle. Exposure, stickiness…it all goes up substantially, although your overall output of ergs also goes up proportionally. But, you’re in the business of constantly evaluating and amplifying your marketing efforts so, buckle in. It could be a really awesome opportunity.  


connect (online) 

In 2018, you’re not a thought leader if you’re not online. You can have thoughts offline, but you aren’t really leading anyone. And even if you are, they certainly aren’t aware of it. So, that defeats some of the purpose. Moral of the story – you’ve got to be active online. Make sure you're capitalizing on your immediate network – reaching out to friends, family, professional peers…across social media. Chances are, some of the best connections for your brand already exist within your sphere. Make sure they’re looped in from the beginning. 

Is your LinkedIn following reflective of the past 5 years of professional connections? 

Is your Instagram populated with relevant followers (numbers ignored)? 

Does your Facebook friends list reflect your adult life? 

Depending on your age/other demographic information, you might not have kept up with your social media before starting this venture. While your online persona won’t be quite as strong as someone who’s been at this gig for 10 years, you can do a lot of the back-work. Think about who you know. Make sure there’s a connection online and that they know where to find you. 


share (the love) 

You aren’t going to make it on your own. Sharing and caring is really the best way to go with this whole gig. Identify fellow thought leaders whose message and strategy is aligned with yours. Partner with other groups to reach their audiences with your POV. Ask people to guest blog. You’ll probably get some invitations back. Shout out to your favorite brands and followers on social media – make it personal and share the spotlight. It’s a pretty big world out there – it can accommodate a lot of people who are simply committed to doing things well. 

Where are you lacking exposure and who within your reach operates in that sphere? 

Where do you want to increase awareness about your thoughts in the next 12 months? 

How can you help someone in your niche and benefit from the association? 

There’s plenty to go around, so aligning yourself with your “competitors” is far better than just trying to beat them at their own game. It’s also important to remember the little guys – the ones just starting out, like you were not so long ago. Goodwill toward the up-and-coming isn’t will wasted. Not to mention, it’ll help keep you relevant 10 years from now when you could otherwise fall casualty to the changing times. 

Housekeeping: Next week, we’re continuing this series with Tackle and Rattle and we’ll discuss talking about the big issues and setting your self apart from your peers. On Monday, because that’s what we do every Monday. 


Don’t miss the new episode of South Bay Social on the WhatUp podcast channel dropping Tuesday – we’re covering thought leadership over there this month too. Bite size pieces with the South Bay kind of vibe.  



SwagSam is taking over the blog Wednesday with his guest debut on CommCorner. He’s tackling swag, as we thought would be appropriate. Anyone whose goal is increasing brand awareness needs to think about swag. Sam is coming with recommendations mindful of your market and  your money. See? We’ve got you covered.  

CALL TO ACTION: If you read our blog or listen to the podcast or follow us on social media, jump on our email list. The WhatUp team has lots going on in the South Bay, so if you’re a neighbor, you’re going to want to be looped in, and the EMAIL IS A PERFECT WAY TO STAY CONNECTED. Jump on it.  

Hannah Duchesne