My much-loved friend Jon once told me he lives by three rules: Show Up, Pay Attention, Don’t Lie. He says that even when things get pretty hairy, those three are simple enough to remember. Over the years, I’ve found them a handy combination, and they actually do cover about 98% of what you have to deal with.
They work just as well in the work world or the blogosphere as they do in your personal life. And breaking them will mess things up for you in those worlds as surely as they will at home. Today I’m going to spend a little time on the first of that trilogy, Showing Up.
80% of success is showing up
That’s a Woody Allen quote. His personal life notwithstanding (what do I know, I don’t know the guy), you’ve got to give him the showing up part.
Year in and year out he makes movies. Some of them are amazing and some of them stink. I love Sweet and Lowdown and hate Mighty Aphrodite. You may feel just the opposite. Doesn’t matter.
Woody Allen keeps showing up, decade after decade. Sometimes he comes up with works of genius that make the rest of it worthwhile. His movies are cheap to make, so they don’t lose money even if they mostly bomb. (This last point is a very useful lesson for marketers.)
He doesn’t know where his own creative imagination and the talents of his people will take him, and it’s not his business to know that before he gets there. He keeps showing up to find out.
Sometimes you create an instant relationship with a customer–they find you right away and they’re a raving fan forever. Usually, though, it takes a lot of time. You have to keep showing up. You keep sending great content in your newsletters and email, you keep making strong offers, you keep your unique value proposition in front of them. Trust takes a long time to build and an instant to destroy. So put the time in.
(Having said all that, there’s a fine line between sticking a relationship out and sticking with something that doesn’t work. Spend some quality time figuring out your resources and what you think it’s going to take. Work out how long you’ll keep showing up before you call it a failed experiment. Then show up every single day until your deadline. Sometimes great things happen at the last minute.)
Show up where your customers hang out
While you’re doing all this showing up, you might want to give some thought to where you’re going to do that. A great place to show up is where your customers hang out.
Online forums, charity marathons, blogs, Facebook, coffee shops, subway stations, shopping malls, community gardens, Squidoo, MySpace, Hub, Gather, The Well. Every crowd has its favorite hangouts. The very best thing you can do, when you find the hangout, is to figure out how to create or participate in a conversation there. Become part of the community. Interact. Ask questions.
Don’t “market” or “message” or “pitch,” and for god’s sake don’t pontificate. Just show up, be trustworthy and make yourself useful.
Show up even when it’s hard
Yes, sometimes the conversation gets ugly. Yes, sometimes your customers throw bottles at you when you were just trying to do something nice. Yes, you will definitely lose control of your message. Yes, you’ll get nasty feedback. Yes, you’ll look like an ass sometimes. Yes, at least one person will call you an idiot. Yes, you’ll screw up. Yes, conversation is risk.
Retreating from the conversation when it gets scary is an excellent recipe for failure. Your tormenters will call you a coward and they’ll be right.
Stick it out. Keep showing up. Dodge the bottles, maybe even throw a couple back if you have to, but don’t run away. In social media (or anywhere), your presence will speak volumes.
The measure of any relationship is whether you keep showing up when things get really hard. When you do, your actions speak louder than any words you could come up with.
More Woody Allen quotes
Courtesy of IMDB.
I was thrown out of NYU for cheating on my Metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.
For me, being famous didn’t help me that much. It helped a little. Warren Beatty once said to me many years ago, being a star is like being in a whorehouse with a credit card, and I never found that. For me, it was like being in a whorehouse with a credit card that had expired.
Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.
To you, I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition.
Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
(and my personal favorite): I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.