Author and Wired magazine senior editor, Kevin Kelly, once wrote that to make a successful living as a creator, artist, or entrepreneur, you don’t need to have millions of followers and devotees. Rather, success can be gained with only 1000 “True Fans,” which he defines as a dedicated audience that will devote themselves to any and everything you produce.
Kelly admits that the number 1000 is subjective to each individual, but the idea is that instead of aiming for the broadest possible audience with your content, appealing to your most devoted admirers will result in more success. Rather than focus on quantity, focus on quality.
If finding true fans is how musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs find success, why not take this approach when building our careers?
Similar to any artist looking to find true fans of their creative work, one effective way to focus on career networking is by “Making Fans” of you. Every individual has a unique value to offer this world, and in the same way we buy into art, culture, and technology, people also buy into individuals and the value they provide.
Social media’s advantage is that it gives us access to a lot of contacts right at our fingertips. With tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, the possibilities of new connections are enormous, but also overwhelming. As a result, this can make networking a daunting task. With so many potential connections that exist in a virtual world, how can you make yourself stand out and develop meaningful quality professional relationships in order to get ahead in your career?
Approaching networking as “Making Fans,” makes it much easier to identify and grow professional relationships with people that are excited to move you forward in your career.
Here are three essential elements to effectively build a devoted audience of fans:
Know yourself: Gain a deep understanding of who you are and what you have to offer to get your fans excited about buying into you. Work with a coach to discover what your values, skills, strengths, and goals are. With a true understanding of yourself, you can more clearly communicate the unique value you can contribute to your fans, and have greater clarity on what you want to gain in your career and from your professional relationships.
Know your audience: The more you know about your audience of fans, the more you will understand how to effectively engage with them. Approach every interaction with a potential fan with a deep and genuine curiosity. Find out what their goals and needs are, and ask how you can help serve them. Informational interviews and coffee meet-ups are a great way to make that initial connection. Most importantly, be sure to follow up with your fans on a regular basis to keep strengthening your relationships.
Commit to your goals: Identify and write down your top career goals (be specific). Know what you want your fans to help you achieve, and then find every opportunity you can to wholeheartedly commit yourself to them. Work hard towards achieving your goals, and show your fans that you’re as devoted to your hopes and dreams as they are of you. If your fans see the dedication you put in towards creating your best work, the more invested they will be in you.
For most people, career networking can feel daunting and overwhelming. “Making Fans,” instead of “networking” will feel less stressful, more effective, and fun! Build your audience by making fans with the connections you already have relationships with, including mentors, friends, and colleagues.
Find those people that are dedicated to your talent, hard work, and individuality and you will gain lifelong “true fans” eager to help you achieve your career goals and dreams.