The #1 Way Authors Build Platforms

Are you good at keeping secrets?

Neither am I.

Which is why I’m going to tell you my biggest secret to platform-building success. Authors, are you listening? Er, reading?

The secret is…

Not Facebook.

Sure, you can build a tribe using Facebook, but hardly anyone sees your posts. Here’s to you, Zuckerberg.

It is not Twitter.

Yeah, a retweet might get you some attention. But it’s like whispering in a crowded room—no one will hear you.

It is not your email subscribers.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on a minute! I read in every single Forbes article ever written that a plethora of email subscribers means a platform, baby.

Maybe.

Just because you have subscribers doesn’t necessarily mean you have book ambassadors.

Do you want to know the secret to gaining a real platform, full of people who care about your book?

Networking.

*fireworks explode all around you*

If word of mouth is the greatest form of advertising, then that must mean…someone who has talked to you or read your book will advertise for you.

Hello! That means you do nothing and still sell books—all because you networked with some great people.

I told you. It’s like the holy grail of book success.

Before you rush up to a complete stranger to tell him you wrote a book—thereby, potentially creeping him out—take a minute to read through this list of tips.

1. Be prepared with something awesome.

Yes, I know. Your book is awesome. But be prepared to give away something that catches the person’s attention. When you’re networking, you want to be memorable. This “something awesome” can be tangible or abstract.

For example, give away a super cool bookmark to remind your newfound friend to check out your book. It’s like a business card that people will actually use.

If you don’t have something tangible, then tell a story. You are an author after all. My dad makes friends wherever he goes, and something I’ve learned is that people remember him for years and years. People he hasn’t seen in decades still remember him because of the way he tells a story—lots of jumping around and funny voices.

So when you network, offer something no one can forget. 

2. Understand your niche audience.

Niche: a specialized but profitable corner of the market.

This cannot be overstated. Figure out who your niche audience is by asking some of these questions:

Who reads your book? How old are your readers? Are they mostly male or female? What do they do for a living? What emotions do they have when reading your book? What can you offer them?

When you know your niche audience, you know where they like to hang out, how you can reach them (blog posts, video, or audio?), and how you can establish a relationship with them. When you have a relationship with your readers, you have book ambassadors—the people who sell your book for you.  

3. Know where to network.

You can reach people anywhere. I don’t care if it’s a coffee shop, bookstore, hotel, conference, or airplane. You can network everywhere you go.

Random meetings can turn into loyal readers, sure. I’ve seen that with my own company. But following a strategy will also help you gain a better platform.

I’ll be speaking at a conference in Nashville in June, so wouldn’t it be part of my strategy to network with all of those people? Absolutely!

Check your calendar. Is there anything coming up that would allow you to network? A business conference? Retreats? Clubs? Trade show?  

4. Show an interest in them.

Networking isn’t always about you. In fact, it should be mostly about the person you’re talking to.

Maybe the person you’re networking with wrote a book. (Gasp!) Ask him what he thought of the publishing process. What were the pros and cons? Does he have any advice for you (you know, ’cause you’re an author—cough, cough)?

When you show a genuine interest in someone, he will be more apt to show an interest in you—and your book.

5. Be personable.

Introverts, just hear me out. I know it’s hard to talk to people you don’t know, but just smiling as you listen to someone talk or being kind and compassionate can go a long way. It’s simple yet effective.

For you extroverts, this is easy squeezy.

What are some of your networking tips?