Please like me. Please follow me.

Last week I took Gretchen Rubin’s  Quiz: Do You Make Other People Happy? | LinkedIn. For those of you who don’t want to go to her site, here is the quiz:

  • Do people seem to feel comfortable confiding in you?
  • Do people seem to drift toward you? Join a conversation that you’re having, sit down next to you at a meeting?
  • Do people whom you hardly remember go out of their way to greet you warmly? Say, the friend of your old roommate, or a former co-worker?
  • Do people seem to want to connect with you — by making plans or by emailing, calling, or texting?
  • Do people seem energized by you? Do they smile and laugh in your presence?

Mixed in with the above questions she has the following:

  • Do people follow your recommendations?
  • Are you a source of material comfort or security for someone else?
  • Do people whom you’ve introduced often go on to have a continuing relationship?
  • Have you recently been involved in the improvement or growth of an organization, group, or process that involves many other people?
  • Are you providing opportunities for other people – job leads, blind dates, contacts in a new city?

Notice the difference between the two? The first group is about how people respond to you, while the second is about contributions you have made. Perhaps by combining the two Rubin was trying to show that people will be attracted to you if they perceive you are making a positive contribution.

As writers we will be regarded for our contribution. Whether or not we have a magnetic personality may make little difference in book sales if our book or blog is loved by its audience.

However, I have noticed that people who are open and engaging do tend to have more “follows” and “likes” on their blogs. Of course this does not mean that those without this level of recognition are less attractive or personable. Perhaps they have not been discovered.

There is a lot to learn about the art of blogging. Recently I have discovered a strategy for gaining popularity that has less to do with one’s contribution as a writer or having a likeable personality, and more to do with effective marketing. Those who take time to consistently “like” and “follow” others, tend to reap the rewards of their labour in gaining followers themselves. While nobody is forcing anybody to follow them, there seems to be a sort of unspoken expectation to reciprocate the compliment.

I love to spend time reading the blogs of others and find that if I am not careful my writing will be neglected in favour of reading. Reading what others are writing is important in order to keep up with information, to learn to write better, and, I believe, also to support other writers.

In the blogging world, however, I have begun to wonder if  “follows” and “likes” are beginning to be distributed like business cards. I spoke with an author at a writers conference who told me she drops most of the cards she collects in the garbage before she leaves, along with all the others that are trashed. How sincere are we in our “likes” and “follows?”

Like everyone else out there, I am saying, “pick me, pick me.” Please like me, please follow me. And if you are just “liking” me or “following” me to direct me to your site that’s OK. It will give me the pleasure of meeting you. Who knows, I might even “like” and “follow” you back.

Marketing myself

The thought of marketing myself, or my product sends me into a state of sheer anxiety. Look, I’ll just put my writing out there and if nobody buys it, fine. Just, please, don’t even hint at the fact that I need to promote myself.

I think this fear dates back to my teenage attempts at sales. Back then I had a ‘can do’ attitude. Hey, I once even loaded the back of a pick-up truck with plastic bags of peat moss and went door to door trying to sell them. My brother and I had filled them ourselves. I thought my dad’s land had exceptional peat moss, but it didn’t seem anyone was in need of any lawn or garden enhancer that day.

I used to get easily motivated by motivational talks and fell prey to marketing schemes. Gradually I was cured of this ailment. For years there was a bone-coloured, leather-look carrying case filled with cosmetics and promotional material, sitting in my closet, reminding me of the wide gap between my dreams and reality.

I can see now that my sales pitch tended to sound more like an apology, “This is a wonderful product, but if you’re like me you probably can’t afford it. I don’t want to pressure you. Please. don’t think I’m trying to sell you anything.” And if someone bought something my eyes almost popped out of my head in surprise. Really, seriously?

Then there were the parties, you know, the ones where you invite all your friends and relatives and they are supposed to buy tupperware, or candles or something else they really don’t need for their house. After a few of these I started to respond with a tentative, no, to hosting anymore parties. I think it was because I was realizing pretty quickly how few true friends I had, or how fast I was losing them.

So, the upside was that I learned to assert myself. I didn’t have to buy anymore kits, or host parties, or attend any more pep talks. I began to see the success stories were about other people, not me. No, I wasn’t going to get those cheques they bragged about for selling vitamins, household cleaners, make-up, or whatever, no matter how good it sounded.

But now the old anxiety is returning. If I produce something, I will have to market it, some way or another. And I so hate promoting myself. Even writing an About page almost paralyzes me.

There is, however, one thing I know how to do. If someone has a need I can meet, I’m there. So if I research what people need, what they are looking for, I can respond to that. Maybe I can even present my product in such a way as to help them to see how it is precisely what they are looking for, or what their market needs.

For example, this morning I went to Markets « FundsforWriters. There I found what publishers are looking for. It’s all there, what they need. Now all I have to do is determine what it is in my experiences, knowledge, or research that is suitable. I think I can do this. But like I said, if they don’t buy it, fine. I’m out of there and on to the next one.