For many people, it strikes the fear of God deep into your soul. Almost as soon as the words come out of your boss’s or HR manager’s mouth, your mind starts racing. Questions about being able to meet your mortgage, rent and other commitments loom large in your mind, your heart beats faster and a sense of vulnerability and dread begins to take hold.
Hi, my name is Philip. And a few years ago, it was no different for me. The company I was working for had been taken over and I was no longer needed. But at the time of my laying off I wasn’t particularly enjoying my job anyway; I’d been doing it for years and it was no longer exciting me. The money had been good but I just didn’t feel inspired any longer, so perhaps this was a blessing in disguise.
I’d always been brought up to have a ‘proper job’ – something my Mum called a “job for life”, but around the time of my redundancy I’d been reading how the Internet was helping more and more people like me to follow the path of self-employment. It offered some appeal.
My wife and family would have none of it – not surprisingly they wanted me back out there applying for jobs as quickly as possible!
But after a couple of weeks relaxing in the summer sunshine at home, redundancy payment in the bank, my head was telling me that I just couldn’t face going back into the corporate world – the endless meetings, endless reporting, endless internal restructuring and endless justifying my existence.
My job was hurting me – physically and mentally. Something had to change. And here’s why.
Just a few weeks earlier I had attended our monthly board meeting in London where I presented my department’s figures, and that month they hadn’t been great. In fact, they’d been on the decline for the last two quarters.
“You and your team aren’t cutting it Phil and you’re not on top of your numbers” one of the Board members barked at me.
Tom was a short, grumpy, middle-aged and stocky individual who never looked you in the eye and he looked like an extra in one of the Godfather movies. I didn't have the answers Tom was looking for, and it was one of those moments when I felt sweat starting to run down my back. I just wanted to get out of there.
An hour later, after I had been humiliated, my shirt was wet through and the meeting concluded with frowns all round. We packed up our note pads and computers and I left the room with my colleague John and my boss Dave.
Dave was another 'hit man' in the organisation. He was very good at making himself appear to be friendly, but he'd just as quickly knife you in the back. In fact, it wasn't just my team's figures that were concerning the board members - the company as a whole was floundering and a new, tough management team had been parachuted in to 'tidy things up'.
Our offices were in a seventies-built block on Victoria Street in London and the lift wasn’t working so we took the stairs to get to the ground seven floors below. Our feet clattered and echoed noisily on the marble staircase and Dave suggested we grab a Costa around the corner to ‘debrief’. “Deep joy” I thought.
But as Dave spoke, to make a bad day worse, I missed my footing and slipped, causing me to take a hard tumble on the step and fall clumsily down a flight of the stone staircase. As I fell I twisted my ankle and smashed my shin on the marble and ended up knocking the back of my head on the stone floor – finally coming to an ungainly and painful rest on my back, my bags lying scattered around me.
My colleague John had been just ahead of me and quickly turned back to see if I was OK. Dave my boss was behind me and adopted a different approach to my situation, and asked:
“Is the laptop OK?”
I was still lying on my back and feeling a little sick when he said it and I have no doubt he meant it with all seriousness. “Bastard!” I thought.
That was it; I’d had enough.
And yet just a few weeks later it seemed that my prayers had been answered – I was offered redundancy.
So now I was sitting in the garden at home, contemplating what I’d achieved during the previous twenty-five years of employment. All in all, I had enjoyed it; making a living as a representative for an insurance company had had its moments and there were things that I was good at, things that I had enjoyed and I’d developed skills I could use if I pursued self-employment.
One of those skills was speaking in front of groups of people. In fact I’d enjoyed speaking since I was at school, and the aspects of my job I’d enjoyed most were large sales presentations, seminars and speaking at industry conferences and events.
Although she was desperate for me to get back into the corporate world, it was my wife Sarah who suggested that I write a book about giving seminars and sales presentations – her thinking being that it could be useful to other people and that we could make some money out of it. I relished the idea and set to work on this exciting new challenge.
By pure coincidence, a top US literary agent was in London and was to host a full day workshop on 'how to get published by the first publisher you approach'.
It turned out to be one of the most valuable workshops I’ve ever attended.
I literally followed everything the presenter said to do - to the letter - and in 2004 my book was published – by the very first publisher that I approached! They also accepted it on the very first day they received my synopsis.
I was incredibly proud of my book and will never forget the day that my personal copies arrived in the post. It was all my own work and I felt a real sense of achievement. My publisher even got me a slot on BBC Breakfast TV and a guaranteed second book deal.
Life was looking up again.
It was around then that I discovered that speaking professionally was a viable option. At least that was what people were now telling me.
At networking events, I met speakers who were traveling the world and seemingly making a great living. I attended events where top speakers from the US and Asia were presenting and I was mesmerised by their skills and business models.
They had all written books and many shared ‘secrets’ on how to make money at the back of the room. Several of them were represented by speaker bureaus and agents, and I invested time, energy and money in learning how to create ‘One Sheets’ and other promotional materials to attract the attention of speaker bookers and gain speaking engagements. It was great fun and I relished in mixing, moving and shaking in this exciting new world.
There was just one problem. None of it made any difference.
I read every book about the speaking profession, I worked hard on my speaking skills and talked to as many speakers as possible to gain valuable insights into how they run their businesses. They all seemed to make it look so easy, and whilst my speaking bookings increased a little, they didn’t reach anything like what could be described as a viable business.
I had a book to my name, I’d been on TV, people were telling me that I was good at what I was doing but my accounts told me I was missing a trick. It just seemed impossible to get regular speaking work or break into the ‘big league’. Either the big-league speakers weren’t telling the whole truth about the speaking industry or I had much much more hard work to do.
The problem looming large was that my redundancy money was disappearing fast and going back into the corporate world started to seem like the only option, yet the very thought of it made me feel sick to my stomach.
I’d reached a wall. And it was a high wall. It was make or break time.
And that's when I had my big "Ah-ha" moment.
One evening when I was at a meeting of the Professional Speaking Association in the UK, I met someone who turned a light on for me. A light which changed everything.
That's when I decided I HAD to make a change.
The speaker that evening told me about a new type of website which enabled business owners to network and talk to each other online. Whilst LinkedIn had launched that same year, that was still very much a site to help people get jobs – and that was something I’d convinced myself I didn’t want.
The website I discovered was called Ecademy.com. It’s long gone now, but it was what it enabled me to do which turned things around for me – and really quickly.
I realised almost immediately that there are things you can do online that you can’t do at scale in the ‘real world’. And that was the moment when I had my epiphany.
I had discovered Social Media. Back then we didn’t call it 'Social Media' but it was the forerunner to the sites that we know and love today like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. But what it offered was what would make all the difference to my speaking business.
And it happened immediately.
Literally the first day that I used the Ecademy website, speaking opportunities were presented to me. Not all were paid speaking opportunities by any stretch, but they were speaking openings and breaks. Suddenly, because of Social Media a LOT more people could see me, hear me and interact with me.
Now you’ve probably heard it all before – Social Media this, Social Media that, Social Media gets you business blah blah... You’ve heard all the promises that experts make about Social Media and you’ve probably read those articles which make it sound all so easy:
“Five Tips to Ensure Business Success with Social Media”
“Seven Changes You Must Make to Your LinkedIn Profile That Will Increase Your Sales”
“Three Giant Mistakes You’re Making on Social Media Which Are Holding Back Your Success”
You know the ones; and you, like me have read them all. If it was only that easy to guarantee success with Social Media in just “five simple steps” we’d all be millionaires by now!
Trust me, there are NO 'simple' or 'easy' steps to guarantee success with Social Media, but there is one thing you do need to do, without which you are guaranteed failure.
My epiphany with Social Media was different. It had nothing to do with 'simple and easy steps', where I posted or what I posted or how often I posted – it was a fundamentally new opportunity which up until that point hadn’t been possible online.
No one else in my field or industry was looking at Social Media the way I was, and it had an immediate impact. On the day I discovered Ecademy.com I did something immediately which is still right at the heart of my business today and which makes speaking opportunities find me, rather than me having to go out and look for them.
Ecademy as we knew it closed in 2012, so I switched my efforts to LinkedIn where I replicated what I was doing on Ecademy. And today, five years later, ninety percent of my new speaking and consulting clients originate from LinkedIn.
In fact, I did two things that day:
1. I wrote a plan
2. I constructed a fish tank
Let me explain.
When I looked at what people were doing on Social Media, I noticed something straight away. Everyone was being seduced by the sheer reach that their posts could have. You could post a comment, blog or even an advertisement and thousands of people would see it – for free! What’s more, you could spend your day networking with others on the site and you really felt that you were making progress.
Only, you weren’t making progress at all.
You see it happening all the time on LinkedIn today – people posting here, there and everywhere – highlighting their expertise, professionalism and credibility, yet how much interaction is it creating? Hardly any.
Unless you are one of LinkedIn’s ‘influencers’, you usually just get a handful of Likes and a few comments. Yet the pictures of people’s office dogs seemed to be getting hundreds, if not thousands of people interacting! No wonder people say that LinkedIn is becoming more and more like Facebook…
“LinkedIn is about establishing your personal brand and professional identity” say the experts. And that’s fine if you only ever want a tiny trickle of new customers and opportunities. To be honest you’d be far better off getting out there into the real-world marketplace and attend as many networking events as you can. Put on seminars and workshops and you’ll get more leads than you’ll ever get from Social Media – particularly in professional services.
What hit me between the eyes and changed everything was the realisation of what Social Media is really all about…
That’s right, building community around your expertise. This is the real power behind Social Media.
The moment I realised this, it was indeed an epiphany. It was like the clouds parting and the sun streaming into my life.
And that’s where the fish tank came in.
If there was one thing that my life in the corporate world had told me, it was the importance of targeting your sales and marketing activity. ‘Throw enough and hope that some will stick’ is certainly a strategy but not one to be recommended, yet that’s exactly what most people do on Social Media.
During my time sitting in the garden at home, and later confirmed by a successful speaker friend, it was far better that I put most of my efforts into a market that I already knew. But, like many people who have recently gone self-employed, that felt like a risk. Surely if I just focused on one market I would be missing out on others?
That’s always a risk, but by being all-things-to-all-men I would always be the needle in the haystack. What I needed to do was dominate my market – to own the haystack – and that’s exactly what Social Media enabled me to do.
Having worked for an insurance company for many years, the market I knew best was Financial Services and financial advisers (the people who recommended my company’s products to their clients).
At that time, there were no forums where financial advisers could hang out online. There were plenty of industry events which they attended – goodness knows I’d spoken at them all. But now that I was self-employed, it was much harder for me to access these conferences and events, and even if I could, it would still take a long time to reach everyone with my new product and service offering.
Yet, one thing I had noticed was that financial advisers LOVED to network with each other – they always had much to talk about and they got a huge amount of value from it. When they met up, they would ask each other questions, share business resources, exchange best practice and help one another out. They would even pass leads to each other.
What Social Media enabled me to do was to help them to network online. It had never been done before and there were clear benefits for them to do so. And that in turn helped me.
So I started a group page on the Ecademy website, and in a stroke created the world’s first online networking community for financial advisers. I invited every financial adviser I knew and in a matter of weeks had attracted several hundred members.
Word spread about my new opportunity for financial advisers and my concept even won an industry award quite soon after. Some industry commentators described it as a ‘disrupter’ from the traditional way suppliers provide support to financial advisers. One of those suppliers (who will remain nameless) even made threats that he would have us “taken down”.
At the core of my group’s proposition was that it would help financial advisers to:
• Network, so that they can make valuable new connections
• Share best practice, so that they can support and help one another
• Get answers to their questions, so that they can build better businesses
• Raise their profile in search engine results, so they can be found by new clients
• Find marketing and business development tips, so they can grow their practice
But don't just take my word for it. Here's what they were saying:
"Phil's online community saves me time and effort every day! I love how willing everyone is to give prompt and knowledgeable help."
In short, they loved it. And when you think about it, any niche, any industry and any profession can benefit from being part of an online community. What's more, subject experts like you can build your own community too. Just think of the benefits that will give you.
But I quickly learnt a few tricks which helped the clouds to clear even faster.
I treated my group like a fish tank, with the group members being the fish in the water. Like all fish tanks, if you want the fish to survive and thrive you need to feed them, so every day I would sprinkle food in the tank – and by that I mean I would send a daily email newsletter containing tips, links, ideas, resources, blogs and content which added value to their professional lives.
Not surprisingly, when I fed the fish, they all logged in, swam around and ate the food.
The next day I would feed my fish again, and once again they would log in, swim around, say hello to one another and eat their food.
And I’d repeat this day after day - feed the fish great content and watch them respond. What I noticed next was fascinating, because on days when I didn’t have time to feed them, they would still log in. They’d swim around and eat whatever scraps were left over from the previous day, and if another day went by without me feeding them, they’d still log in. But this time many would bring their own food with them which they would share amongst one another. And by this I mean that they would log into the forum and post their own tips, links, resources and content.
That's what communities do - people help each other out.
And before I knew it, I had a thriving online community. A community which valued great content, which valued me – and which valued my products and services, which from time to time I would mix in with their food.
The tank was where my community lived. My ‘fish food’ had become extremely valuable to them – but just as important to them was the warmth and good feeling that being part of a community of like-minded professionals gave them.
I had literally struck gold.
By consistently ‘feeding my fish’ with high value content, I had become in demand. Financial advisers and other professionals in the industry suddenly saw me as the ‘go to’ person for value and I found myself being asked to speak at conferences, events, in-house training sessions and high value consultancy sessions. I even won an award for Personality of the Year at one of the industry’s most prestigious and high profile events.
And then something happened which I wasn’t expecting, though in hindsight I should have known it was coming.
When I wrote my book, Successful Seminar Selling, one of the things I included was that when you put on a seminar, there will almost always be someone there (who you don’t yet know), who will unexpectedly open doors for you.
And the same thing happened in my online community for financial advisers. Suppliers to financial advisers started to join who asked if they could pay to promote their services to my community. They too asked me to speak at their conferences and before I knew it I found myself also being asked to speak within other industries – simply because I had used Social Media to build a community and create value.
Other industries outside of Financial Services wanted to know how I did it so that they could do it too. They wanted my formula.
And today I do the exact same thing. My online network for financial advisers is still going strong and every day we feed our fish.
Now let’s pause and think for a moment –
• How are you caring for your fish?
• Do you know where they swim online?
• How are you feeding them – and do you have a plan?
But here’s the thing. You’ll have noticed earlier I said that as well as building a fish tank, before that I wrote a plan. Without that plan, the clouds wouldn’t have cleared and the sun wouldn’t have come streaming in.
You see, those uncomfortable and awkward monthly board meetings did teach me something. The company I worked for was obsessive about plans. Nothing, but nothing happened without a plan. In short, I’ve had planning ingrained into me.
When I speak at events now I always ask for a show of hands as to who is on LinkedIn and almost everyone puts up their hand. But when I go on to ask “…and who here has a plan for how they use LinkedIn?” hardly anyone raises their hand.
It’s very similar for how entrepreneurs and businesses use Social Media generally. Most have a business plan, but very few have a documented Social Media plan. It is particularly true of speakers, coaches, trainers and consultants, and when I ask them how they use Social Media they often reply like this:
“I heard that YouTube videos are worth doing so I’m giving that a go.”
“I’ve seen a few speakers using Facebook live video so I’m going to give that a go.”
“A couple of other people in my niche have started a Podcast, so I’m going to give that a go.”
The thing is, “give that a go” is not and never will be a viable strategy.
It just won’t bring in the results that you want to see and any new clients that you do attract through Social Media will be by accident rather than design. If you’re happy with that, then please stop reading now. But you’ll be missing the real gold.
When I first discovered the Ecademy website and realised what I could do with it, I wrote a plan. It was basic, but it’s what immediately made the clouds start to clear.
Most people get the ‘make a plan’ message loud and clear, but speakers, consultants, coaches and subject experts consistently tell me that the following are their real Social Media pain points:
1. They don’t know how to create their plan or where to get started
2. They don’t know what to include in their plan
3. They don’t know what results they could expect to see
4. They haven’t got the time and resources to put it all together
Speakers, trainers, coaches and consultants also tell me that:
5. They don’t know how to decide what to post about on Social Media
6. They’re unsure which Social sites to post on
7. Their current Social Media activity isn’t converting into new clients, so they’re sceptical
Note that a key pain point is that speakers, consultants and experts don’t know how to get started with a plan. This is important because the very first moment I realised that I had an opportunity to better serve my target audience and the opportunity to see success in my own life I knew I had to plan it – and properly.
And as I mentioned earlier, it had an immediate impact.
So I have developed a process over many years which I use with personal consultancy clients to help them create their own Social Media plan – a plan which literally transforms the way they use Social Media and the results they get from it. When they start using my process, I immediately see the clouds clearing in their own lives. Light-bulbs come on and they have their own epiphany too.
Whilst you might have similar expertise, discipline or qualifications as some of your peers, it’s vital to remember that no two speakers, experts or coaches are the same. No two consultancy businesses are the same and no two training firms are the same – you have very specific and unique qualities which attract different types of clients.
But identifying how you can ‘feed your fish’ through Social Media can often be a challenge, so I’ve developed a full-proof planning process which is designed to make it easy for you.
The planning tool I use makes you look at your business and clients in ways that you’ve not considered before.
It takes you through a series of questions which quickly help you to identify
a) how best to engage with your audience, and
b) how they would most value your expertise in the form of added value content.
In short, you immediately start to align your Social Media plan with the goals you have for your business - and that's when the magic begins to happen.
Only two days ago I took on a great new consultancy client – an executive coach who works with business leaders in the City of London. Up until yesterday his use of Social Media was random, hit-and-miss and driven by ‘give-it-a-go-when-I’ve-got-a-spare-moment’ approach. His strategy was 'tweet and hope'.
Each month that got him a handful of visits to his website, but it wasn’t supporting his business goals in any way, shape or form. For the most part, his use of Social Media was a complete waste of his time.
Working with my planning tool, we’ve completely transformed his approach to Social Media and it’s switched on light-bulbs for him too – helping him to see amazing new opportunities for his business.
For example, up until this week he saw Social Media as purely a sales and marketing activity, but until he looked at his business through the eyes of my planning tool he hadn’t realised that there were several other ways that he could use it to support his business goals. In fact, enough light-bulbs have been switched on that he’s already seeing that he can achieve even more exciting and substantial goals than he thought possible.
Back in 2004 I hit a wall. The prospect of more meetings, more uncomfortable questions and plummeting job satisfaction was horrific to me. But the arrival of Social Media changed things for me and allowed me to embrace an exhilarating new opportunity and change of lifestyle.
Through a planned and strategic approach to Social Media I was able to attract speaking, training and consultancy work easier than I’d ever thought possible.
“Tweet and hope” never was and never will be a viable strategy and will always result in failure. But if you want to embrace the amazing opportunity that Social Media can bring in your life, you need to make a plan.
That’s why I’ve developed a unique Social Media Planning Tool and it's designed specifically for professional speakers, trainers, coaches, consultants and subject-experts like you.
This took years to create, and cost me energy and money. But it was totally worth it because if you started a new business from scratch today, it makes planning your Social Media activity so much easier and faster.
When you work through the planner, it helps you to discover the potential in your business which can be tapped into through Social Media. It will show you ways to engage with your clients and add value to their lives in ways you have never considered. And it will break down Social Media so that you use it in a way which is bespoke to you and your business.
Time and time again it’s been proven that when you write a Social Media plan, you start to see results. And why is that?
The truth about Social Media for speakers and consultants is that it is a tool to support your business processes – to do some things more efficiently, some things much faster, to complement other activities and to do some things with greater efficiency and adeptness.
In short, it helps you to do many of the things you do in your business – better.
For that reason, speakers should look at their Social Media profiles as assets of their business – particularly LinkedIn. And like any asset or tool that you use in your business, when you learn how to use it properly, only then will you see real benefits.
“Doing what they already do, but better” is a key goal of the most successful speakers, coaches and consultants around the world and Social Media is just one tool which helps them to be better. And when people and businesses invest in themselves, they invariable attract more clients – and better, higher paying ones at that.
So my unique planning tool helps you to do just that, including:
• Helping you to identify key goals in your business and to align your Social Media activities with them
• Help to clear away the noise and overwhelm of Social Media, so that you get razor sharp focus on what you need to do
• Help you to find more time to use and benefit from Social Media
• Help you to identify the right Social Media channels to use, so that you can support your business goals and your client proposition
• Help you to identify the right type of content to post on Social Media in order to achieve your business goals
• Help you to use Social Media in a way which supports and complements your existing marketing and communication activities
• Help you to use Social Media in a way which enhances your professional reputation, credibility and identity
For less than the cost of a meal for two, you can get access to everything you need to transform how Social Media works for you. The total value of my planner is $247 because you're getting the exact same tool I use when I work one to one with personal consultancy clients.
If all this did was to double your income through more speaking, consulting and coaching business, would it be worth it? If all this did was to stop you worrying about whether or not you have enough new clients, would it be worth it?
I'm not going to charge you $247. I'm only going to charge you $67.
And I'm going to take on all the risk, and give you my personal guarantee. But you must act now because I'm only making this offer available for a short while.
Just imagine that you will finally have a clear plan and strategy for attracting new clients and speaking opportunities. So click on the button below right now, and you'll be taken to a secure order form. After you put in your credit card information, your order will be sent to you immediately.
This is the tool that I personally use to attract speaking business through Social Media - and don't forget, I get over ninety percent of my new enquiries from LinkedIn alone!
Thanks in advance.