Archive for the 'Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes' Category

Don’t Wait to Become an Expert

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There’s really only three ways to get known as an expert in your field: teaching, speaking, writing. Let’s do it!

Do not wait for someone’s approval or permission.

Don’t wait until you know more — there’s always an audience who knows less about a topic than you do — and there’s always opportunity for you to learn more.

Don’t wait until you lose weight, or find the perfect clothing, or get Botox. Decide once and for all that other’s judgment of your physical features is their problem, not yours.

Don’t wait until you’ve crafted the “perfect” speech or the “perfect” lesson plan. Do the best you can, and tweak after each time you speak. Speaking and teaching are living arts; you get better each time you do them.

Don’t wait until you have enough money or time to put on a huge workshop or start a big mastermind group. Instead, gather a small group of people, and start where you stand. You’ll grow your participants along the way each time you offer your class or mastermind group.

Don’t wait until you’ve written the most elegant blog post or book. If you need another pair of eyes on your writing, there are thousands of people in the world who need the same thing. Find a writing buddy and get your writing out into the world.

And finally, don’t wait until the fear goes away. It won’t go away. Instead, decide that you’ll work through the fear, you’ll be bold and brave — because it’s far worse to have regrets.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing

Lurker Alert: The Art of Audience, Student and Mastermind Group Engagement

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Who are those people who attend your mastermind group or class but never talk (or who friend you on Facebook or Twitter, but never respond)? And how do you get them talking?

Back in the mid-90s when I first went online via CompuServe (remember those days??), we noticed that for every 1 person who was interacting in the message forum, another 10 were logging on and reading the message threads, but never interacting. Back then, we called them “lurkers” — people who didn’t participate actively in discussions.

Fast forward 20 years, and we find that Lurker Ratio of 10:1 still exists – in online message forums, in my video classes and webinars, in mastermind groups, and any other place where groups of people congregate offline and online.

In some places, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online social media forums, the lurker ratio is closer to 100:1 — for every 1 person who participates, there are 100 people just reading and absorbing the conversation.

There are a number of reasons why people don’t comment on Facebook or blogs: too busy, nothing to add, feeling shy. That’s what the “Like” button is for on Facebook: if you don’t want to leave a comment but you want to still let the folks know that you’re interested, you click the Like button.

Jakob Nielsen calls it Participation Inequality. I see it most often with “virtual” groups of people who meet online or through teleconference or video conference meetings.

But here is what I think is most important:

We ALL have something to add to a conversation — our feelings, our experiences, our knowledge, our questions. What comes from within counts for a lot with me. I love when people leave comments on my blog and when they interact in my classes.

And let’s face it: the whole point of a mastermind group is to brainstorm together, right? Conversation brings value.

In your business, you want to build connections and relationships with your customers, students, group members, and your entire audience. Being aware of the lurker ratio when you’re using social media for marketing — as well as in your classes, groups and online message forums — will help you gauge the quality of your connections and relationships.

For all types of classes and mastermind groups, here are some guidelines:

  1. In live, in-person classes and mastermind groups, the lurker ratio is much better. There’s something about being face-to-face in a sharing environment (especially with a good teacher or mastermind group Facilitator) that brings people out of their shells and encourages them to participate. In my live classes and groups, I’d say that for every 100 people who attend, 30-40 will be lurkers.
  2. The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this phenomenon social loafing.
  3. The longer the event, class or program, the lower the lurker ratio. (Sometimes it takes while to get people warmed up.)
  4. If you want high participation in your classes and mastermind groups, you have to build in interaction into your plan. Don’t wing it: plan it. Design discussion-starter questions that get the group talking within the first five minutes of every meeting.
  5. Pay attention to those who don’t ask questions or make comments. Call on them by name, or say, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t commented yet.”
  6. If your class or mastermind group includes an online message forum, set some rules. For instance, in some of my classes I’ve set this rule: each week all students must post one new message and reply to two messages that someone else has posted.

For social media engagement:

  1. Studies show that you get 65% more engagement if you post before noon, as compared to afternoons and evenings. My experience confirms this with my audience: they’re much more active in the morning on social media.
  2. Don’t just post thoughts, ask questions, too. Instead of simply saying, “Hard work yields results,” consider adding a question to that statement, like, “Do you find this to be true for yourself?” Invite responses and comments.
  3. Comment on other people’s posts. It’s a two-way street. If all you do is post your own articles and thoughts, but never respond to someone else’s blog posts and Facebook posts, why should they communicate with you? It’s all about building relationships.
  4. Engagement isn’t just commenting. Make sure you put links in your blog posts to other blog posts that are related. When someone reads a blog post and clicks on a link, that’s engagement, too.
  5. Respond back. When someone responds to your blog post or social media post, respond back and acknowledge it. They need to know you heard them.
  6. Let them see you. Too many small business owners hide behind their content. They post links to articles on Facebook and Twitter, but they never share any of their own story. I don’t mean those “I used to live in a box but now I live in a mansion” stories…I mean everyday stories about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re reading or watching, and even what you’re eating. Give them a window into your personal life. Yes, you can keep most of your personal life as private as you like — telling them you made Chickpea Burgers for lunch isn’t an invasion of privacy, it just plain fun! 🙂

If your lurker ratio is still 100:1, take heart — it still means that for every one person who responds to your post, 100 are reading what you write!

These are just a few of the tips to get people to join the discussion. I’m sure you have your favorite ways of getting your audience involved, yes? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!

P.S. If you’re a lurker, I’d love to hear from you. C’mon, fess up. Just one comment and you’ll be an official EX-lurker!  🙂

 

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

Passionate Students Become Passionate Customers: How to Use Teaching to Grow Your Business

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It’s getting harder and harder to get your customer’s attention. They are deluged with information, so they scan-click-delete.

Yet they cry out in the night for someone to explain things simply.

The rules of modern marketing have changed, and it’s only going to get worse. You’d better find the most effective, most efficient marketing techniques to nurture your leads and build trust and loyalty with your audience, or you’ll be left behind.

One technique stands out above all the rest – teaching. 

Offering free classes helps you sell your services and products, and fill your mastermind groups and your paid classes and events. But there are tricks to doing is right or you’ll lose your lovely customers in a heartbeat!

Getting to Know You … as a Teacher

Teaching gives your audience the personal interaction with you that’s missing in most marketing techniques. When they get to experience you in a very personal way — whether it’s through a in-person presentation, a video conference or a webinar — it builds a connection that lives on long after the class ends.

Whether at a live event, or through a webinar or teleseminar, teaching helps you be seen as an expert in a very crowded marketplace. It helps you expand your reach — and your revenue. Your students remember you as the person who has the answers.

Best of all, you get to share what you know with your audience, which empowers and inspires them.

You’ve Got to be Well-Prepared

Want to run an excellent class to use as a marketing tool — one that students talk about and share with their friends and colleagues?

Start with a brilliant class plan.

Not only will you cover amazingly helpful content, but you’ll be more relaxed and teach it better if you have a plan.

Here are the six steps to designing a class to use as a marketing tool:

  1. Start with what the audience wants to learn. Students don’t care about what you want to teach. They only care about what they want to learn. So do your market research and ask your audience what challenges they have, then design a class around solving those problems.
  2. Write a sizzling lesson plan. Map out what you’re going to say, in a logical order that simplifies the information. Take the information that’s overloading your audience, and sift it into what’s most important, with usable action steps.
  3. Design a red-hot opening. You’ve been in those “salesinars” where the teacher spends the first 20 minutes talking about themselves. Your eyes roll back in your head and you mumble, “When will this teacher ever get to the important content?” Don’t do that to your students — they deserve better for committing their time to attending your class. Start with a big bang: huge, useful content in the first 5 minutes. Then they’ll be saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to hear what comes next!”
  4. Make it interactive. Create discussion questions, tell stories and create exercises so your students don’t fall asleep halfway through. Adult students need you to change the pace of the class every 10 minutes or so. “All lecture” classes are a thing of the past, and there are dozens of teaching strategies that put some jazz into your class design. Remember that there’s a high ratio of lurkers to participants, so learn how to reach both introverts and extroverts and learn how to engage them in the learning conversation.
  5. Set your marketing goals. Whether you’re offering a free class to build your mailing list or you’re introducing your audience to a new product or service, have specific marketing goals for your class so you can measure if it’s working.
  6. Have a plan for what you’ll do, after the class, to continue the conversation. Your class isn’t a one-off marketing technique, it’s part of a bigger marketing plan. Decide how you’ll follow-up with the participants. Consider a post-class email marketing campaign that provides them with recordings, handouts and resources to cement what they’ve learned and remind them of the products or services you offer.

Choose a Teaching Method

Once you’ve designed your class, it’s time to decide which delivery method to use.

Last year I asked thousands of small business owners, “How do you prefer to learn?” From the results of last year’s Learning Survey, I found that people have strong preferences about how they prefer to consume your educational material. (You can get the results of my Learning Survey here.)

There are several effective teaching methods, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

  1. Live event – There’s nothing better than meeting your audience face-to-face. Unless you’re strictly inviting a local crowd, timing, weather, and cost can play a role in attendance. If you’re inviting an out-of-town audience, consider making it a full-day event, even if you have to charge them a small fee to cover your costs.
  2. Webinar – The best part about webinars is that there’s both an audio and a video feed, so participants are engaged on two levels. The worst part is that when the technology fails, the whole thing falls apart. Most interaction happens via text chat unless your participants are either on an accompanying teleconference line or they have microphones in their computers (watch out for the dreaded echo!). Webinar platforms are getting more stable, but it’s good to have a webinar back-up plan just in case.
  3. Teleseminar – Teaching via teleconferences has been around for over a decade and it’s an established way to deliver a class. You can have lots of voice-based interaction, but it may be a little boring for those visual learners unless you have handouts to go with your class. If your participants are on the go, it’s easier to connect to a teleseminar than a webinar.
  4. Video Conference and Live Streaming Events – When your audience can see your bright, shining face on their computer screen, it’s the next best thing to a live event. As with webinars, sometimes the technology doesn’t work as planned (make sure you have enough memory in your computer, and enough internet speed on your service so your video is clear), but it’s definitely a strong contender for building rapport with your audience.

Afraid? Don’t Be! Just Teach

I know that teaching may feel intimidating. Start small and remember: you were put on this planet to help other people, and there’s no better way to help than to teach.

You’ll be surprised how much you love it!

Remember:

  • Capture your audience’s attention, and gain their trust and loyalty.
  • Deliver usable content in a logical way they can use immediately.
  • Teach them what you know in a free class, and create passionate customers.

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing

Annual Learning Survey Results

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A few months ago, I conducted a Learning Survey of small business owners and solo entrepreneurs to determine how their learning preferences had changed since the last time I conducted the survey (in 2013).

1,816 small business owners and solo entrepreneurs completed the survey. You can download the PDF results summary report here.

I hope you find this information helpful in understanding your students and how they like to learn.

I don’t think there’s anything more important in the world than teaching others what you know and empowering them to use that knowledge to have a better personal and professional life. Keep teaching!

Please leave your comments and questions below…I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. If you haven’t taken the Learning Survey yet, there’s still time. Take it here and get 18 great free biz-building bonuses from great business mentors, just for taking the 3-minute survey. 🙂

Other Helpful Resources:

 

Let’s connect on Facebook and Twitter!

51 comments for now



Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes

How to Facilitate Introverts and Extroverts in Your Group or Class

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Whether you teach classes, run mastermind groups, or offer group coaching programs, understanding what makes introverts and extroverts tick will help you run your group better.

We all know there are two personality styles that are polar opposites of each others, right?

I wish it were that simple.

Introversion and extroversion are on extreme ends of a line, a continuum. Sometimes people will be strongly to one side or the other on that continuum, but often people exhibit mixed tendencies, especially in a group setting where there is rapport and trust.

For example, an introvert like me (yes, I consider myself an introvert! 🙂 ) might be quiet around new people, but very gregarious when with my mastermind groups. I might be quiet when I’m the student and trying to absorb new information, and highly extroverted when I’m the teacher. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum, and often it’s situational.

So let’s define what we mean by these terms:

An introvert gains energy by being alone, and expends energy when in a group setting, like a mastermind group. Being an introvert doesn’t mean a person is shy; it means he needs quiet time alone to process the outcome of the group meetings and recharge his batteries before he wants to get back into the group-mode again.

An extrovert gains energy when she is out in the world, especially brainstorming with a group of people. She’s excited to share ideas and to process her thoughts verbally in the group. Sometimes she gets her best ideas while talking through a problem with other people.

How do you facilitate a group that includes both types?

An introvert needs quiet time, even a minute or two, to collect his thoughts and reactions to a given problem or situation. Giving the entire group a few minutes to write down their ideas on their own, before sharing, can give the introvert the space he needs to process.

On the other hand, the extrovert needs time to talk out loud, to process her thoughts while she’s actively communicating with others. Knowing this, you can allow the extrovert a few minutes to explain her situation: she just might find clarity — or even solve her problem herself — simply by talking openly about it.

Between meetings, give each of these types a way to communicate with the entire group, possibly through an online message forum. The extrovert will appreciate the ongoing connection to the group and the introvert can take his time to process internally, then communicate at his leisure.

How can you tell if a group member is an introvert or an extrovert?

It’s not possible to pigeon-hole someone and label them as “all introvert” or “all extrovert,” but there are tendencies the psychologists have identified that you can (and should) pay attention to:

  • an introvert makes more and sustained eye contact
  • an introvert will appear to think before she speaks
  • an introvert may disappear during breaks, or talk deeply with only one person during breaks
  • an introvert may seem shy around the group in the beginning, until he gets to know everyone better
  • an introvert needs quiet time away from the group to relax and process
  • an extrovert will appear energized by being in the group situation
  • an extrovert jumps right into the conversation and thinks while he speaks
  • an extrovert may prefer to talk with 3 or 4 people during breaks
  • an extrovert will interact with everyone in the group, even in the beginning, because she loves to meet new people
  • an extrovert may enjoy additional social time with the group after the official group meeting ends

As a mastermind group facilitator, teacher, or group coaching mentor, you will foster a tight, powerful group by being aware of these two personality types and giving each what they need.

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

How Do You Prefer to Learn?

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As more small business owners are searching for ways to learn new business and marketing skills, I’m noticing some changes in the way that small biz owners prefer to absorb and learn new business-related education.

The ground is shifting very quickly when it comes to education and the delivery of training materials and information.

I’m conducting a research study to find out exactly which ways you like to absorb new content, learn new skills, and acquire new knowledge for your business and professional life.

I’ve put together a quick, 3-minute survey with ten easy questions for small business owners and solo entrepreneurs. Yes, just ten questions. It’s as simple as that!

But even 3 minutes is a lot when you’re busy, so we’re making it irresistible by offering you 18 practical, helpful educational bonuses for free, just for completing the survey.

Can I ask you the favor of taking just 3 minutes from your schedule today to take my survey? Here’s where you can take it online.

(The link will open in a new window/tab.)

Thank you for your help!

P.S. Would you like to see a summary of the results of this survey? Once you complete the survey, you’ll be asked if you want a copy of the summary. I’m happy to share the findings of this research with you, and all I ask in return is that you answer the survey questions…just 10 of them. Take the survey here.

P.P.S. Please share with other small biz owners and solo entrepreneurs you know. Share the love!  🙂

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes

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