We Are ALL In the Education Business

In the late 90′s, I finally got my first cellphone. I fought it for years.
Learn to Swim from Peers

Photo Credit: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

The idea that I would be on the phone during my quiet time or drive time talking (and probably working) did not appeal to me in the least. Sure there were social benefits, but I wanted time to recharge, unplug, meditate, and collect my thoughts.  In short, I wanted down time.  Fast forward to 2014.

Now, it would be almost impossible to live without this device.  Why is that? (Long live down time, rest in peace.)

Ask yourself: have you ever gone a day without your smartphone or mobile device?  If you unplugged from the net and social media, how long would you last–two days perhaps, a week?

Let’s make this a multiple choice question.

With no mobile device, would you feel:

A. Isolated
B. Uninformed
C. Vulnerable
D. All of the above

For many, the answer is D.

In the end, I needed a cellphone because I couldn’t wait to know things any more.  I needed to reach people wherever I was, at times to keep in touch for social reasons, but more often to get things done or grab a quick update from someone to assess and learn what needed to be done next.

As I write this blog, I’m finding it interesting that there are some keywords I just can’t avoid.  This is not for SEO purposes (sorry Google), but rather because I can only describe what I’m saying by using these words and they keep popping up.  Do you see a pattern yet?

The fact is, I can’t talk about connecting with other people without using the words “know” and “learn.” (Well whaddaya know?)  If you think about it (“think”–there’s another one), it’s engrained in our social language.

In fact, I hate to admit it, but it’s no longer just me on the continuous learning bandwagon.  How many times have you seen the word “webinar” in your email box lately?  There sure seem to be a lot of free classes these days.  And how many seminars have you gone to this year?  It seems like a lot of expense to put those on, doesn’t it?

I went to a couple of free business strategy meetings and M&A seminars earlier this year, and I learned a lot.  I’m not being facitious, I really did.  It was a valuable experience, and I couldn’t help being struck by how much they had to educate me in order for me to become their future customer.  And that’s when it hit me:

We are all in the education business now.  Every one of us.

Whether you’re educating your future customers, current customers, peers, co-workers, employees, investors, the press, the general public, or friends and family; if you want to stay relevant, people need to understand what you’re doing, how it works, and why it’s important.  Things are moving too fast for people to pay attention to anything if they don’t understand its value.

I also equate this idea with the reason we received so many questions recently at Lrngo from users wanting to know how to promote their expertise and themselves as speakers; which became the subject of two Lrngo blogs earlier this year.  So many people with expertise wanted to gain speaking experience and promote themselves by giving presentations, webinars and classes on their topics, that we had to dig in and come up with the information.

This trend isn’t as much about 15 minutes of fame as it is about survival of the fittest.  The consultant, service provider or company that doesn’t stay ahead of the curve by educating their target market on why they are needed and what makes them different won’t be around very long.

As we shift to the reputation economy and social media shines the spotlight on the expertise of individuals, the move toward constantly educating and re-educating each other is not likely to subside any time soon.  In the words of Denis Waitley, “<you can> never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.”  You have to stay ahead of the curve.

In late 2014, I finally joined Twitter. I fought it for years. It’s amazing how much you can learn from one sentence.

Follow me on Twitter @davidcbrake

Establish Yourself as an Expert Speaker in 10 Easy Steps (Part 2)

Expert SpeakerIn our last blog, we touched on the first five steps you can take to establish yourself as an expert speaker and increase your demand as a presenter.

To continue to build on that momentum, follow the next steps below.

6. Start a blog and begin blogging about topics centered around and relevant to your area of expertise. You can create your own website for this, but you don’t have to.  Learn the basics of WordPress here http://learn.wordpress.com/ and how to promote your blog here http://www.hatchbuck.com/blog/6-simple-ways-get-mileage-blog-post/.

7. Open a Twitter account at Twitter.com and begin tweeting short statements (140 characters is the limit) relevant to your area of expertise, and retweet relevant topics from others.  Gain followers and follow others who are experts in your field. When possible, include a link to your next class or event on Lrngo.com or Meetup.com with each tweet leading up to the date of your next engagement.

8. Join LinkedIn and create a profile that emphasizes your current area of focus and expertise, then fill out your past history and work experience leading up to your current focus. Keep it real, but make sure what you say is what you would want the newpaper to print if they were doing an article on you. Post all of your blogs and speaking engagements as updates on your Linkedin profile.

9. Start an account on YouTube. Create short instructional videos around your topic of expertise and post them.  Link the videos back to your live classes on Lrngo.com.  If you have an instructional video that is long and helpful enough, create an ongoing online class on Lrngo.com and link to your instructional video.  Also have someone film your live speaking engagements and free class presentations and post them on your YouTube channel (in part or in whole). If you feel that posting an entire presentation will make your in-person presentations and classes less valuable, then post a partial presentation that includes some helpful information and makes reference to the additional valuable information that people will learn by seeing the rest of your presentation in person.

10. Write a book, and sell it on Amazon.  That’s right, I said it and I know what you’re thinking: how the #&@$ am I going to find time to write a book?  Well, according to Alicia Dunams, if you plan correctly you can do it in one weekend.  Of course extra research, editing and final publishing will take longer, but the idea is that the core of the book can be completed by isolating yourself and focusing on just writing it for two to three days.  Kami Watson Huyse, social media expert at Zoetica Media is using this technique to write her new book on a tight schedule, and speaks positively about the experience. Promoting your book will now go hand in hand with promoting your speaking engagements.

In the beginning as you create demand, try to present at least once or twice a month.  Remember, never turn down an opportunity to speak in front of a lot of people if you can help it, and always cross-promote with your writing.

Read part 1 Establish Yourself as an Expert Speaker in 10 Easy Steps (Part 1).

Establish Yourself as an Expert Speaker in 10 Easy Steps (Part 1)

Are you an expert in something?  Do you have helpful information you would like to share, but lack an audience?  

Perhaps you would like to inform people about a topic you care about, or widen your experience and reputation as an instructor by speaking on a topic of expertise?  Here are a few steps you can take to get started, and a path you can follow to build up momentum and increase your demand and opportunities as a speaker.

1. If you have anxiety about speaking in public or don’t have much experience, join www.Toastmasters.org or other groups where they allow you to practice. Then join a professional group or go to Meetup.com and find a local group (or groups) that are relevant to your topic (or topics) of expertise.  There are a lot of hobby, professional and knowledge-based interest groups in most cities.  Start going to their group events, and get to know their members. (If there are no groups relevant to your expertise in your city, start one.)

Become an Expert Speaker

2. Ask one of the Meetup.com groups if you can give a presentation at one of their events. You should have an idea of what you are going to talk about before you ask, and why the theme is relevant. You can start practicing with shorter presentations and hold a discussion, then get feedback from the members before you move up to longer times.

3. Learn to use Powerpoint, and put together a slide deck around your topic. Look at examples and get help if you’re not good at creating slides. Be sure to save some time for questions and answers (Q&A) at the end of the presentation. (A good rule of thumb is to allocate 2/3 of the total time for the actual presentation of the slides and 1/3 for the Q&A.)  It’s important to practice Q&A as well, so you can give helpful answers to questions from the audience and gain experience leading a discussion.

4. When you’re ready to give a 45 minute to one hour presentation (including Q&A), post your presentation as a free class on www.Lrngo.com. Once you have a date posted on the calendar of one of the Meetup groups to present, create a profile on www.Lrngo.com and then post a class with the same title and theme as your presentation.  Put a link from your Lrngo class to the Meetup group event listing, and let people know they have to sign up through the Meetup group to go. (If you are not using Meetup.com, you can have them sign up directly through Lrngo.)  Listing your presentation as a free class lets people know they should go because there is something they can learn from you.

5. Then post on Craigslist, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and everywhere else you can find with a link back to your class on Lrngo.  Then create a Facebok page for the event with a link back to your Lrngo class or Lrngo profile. This kind of link building around an event is favored by Google, and will increase traffic to your event and help you build up an online history as a presenter.

After a few of these public speaking events, guess what?  You are a presenter with a track record both online and off, and with the links and traffic to prove it.  Our next blog will talk about the final five steps to solidify your position as an expert and increase your presence as a public speaker.

Read part 2 Establish Yourself as an Expert Speaker in 10 Easy Steps (Part 2).