Once upon a story, there was an online friend of mine named Nathan.
He used to run a blog over at NathanHangen.com, where, once upon the same story, I wrote a fantabulous (not to toot my own horn or anything) guest post.
On said blog, Nathan liked to talk a lot about “Empire” building.
He also liked to use testosterone filled words like “Sword” and “Sacrifice” and “Redemption”. (He’s such a dude.)
Nowadays, his blog is no longer up and running, but he kindly agreed to let me re-run that post here on #BGB.
Couldn’t let damn good content go to waste, now could we?
So let’s talk a little about empire building here on #BGB…
I think the whole concept of building a “digital empire” is a worthy goal. As an entrepreneur, why would you want to create anything less than an empire that you hold the reins to?
A virtual “machine” that not only makes you money, but impacts others in a positive way, brings enormous personal satisfaction, and can be molded into something you can pass down to your grandkids if you so choose?
And in the world we live in today, digital is just about the only way a single individual can build something so amazing and far-reaching, that can impact so many people, with nary more than a creative thought, coupled with a few inexpensive tools, readily available to the motivated.
Stop and think about that a minute
Literally the minute I hit publish on this post it is shot out into the mysterious cyberspace… available immediately to the eyes of anyone in the world who happens upon it. And a motivated person can make it happen over and over again with varying degrees of impact.
That’s a lot of potential power one person can wield
Now it’s the smart one that recognizes that potential power, and sets out to wield it with as much skill and effectiveness as humanly possible, to make the most impact they can.
And there’s never been a better time than now to do it.
Creative Thought + Handy Tools Are Cool
But not everything.
Sure they’re essential ingredients to building an empire; you can’t do it without ’em.
But what’s creative thought if no one ever learns about them?
What’s the point of tools and “building” something, if you’re building it for a solo audience of one?
Simply put, what the hell is an empire, without the people who drive it?
You get one guess.
(OK fine, I’ll answer. I know pop quizzes are so hard.)
The answer is there is no empire without people. Duh.
Which then begs the question…
How Do You Find (And Keep) the People?
The short answer, all tied up with a bow?
Promote. Network. Make connections. Bleck.
I’m not a fan of “short answers” when there is so much more to be said on the topic, so let’s delve into that a little more deeply.
Sure it’s easy to say just go out and promote, network with like-minded people, and the connections will occur. But I don’t really feel that’s the case.
At least not real connections, with people you actually like and whose conversations you actually enjoy. Feel me?
To make real connections, you actually have to be real yourself.
(I’m real, I’m real, can I hang wit’challlll? Hehe…)
I think it’s been the key to my own growth in business and why I have a handful of clients that come back to me again and again… and I absolutely believe that it can be the key to your growth as well.
I’ve made some amazing friends and partners in the online realm, and I don’t think it would have happened if I’d been trying to be something I wasn’t, or focused only on making a wad of cash.
(Although that is of course a big motivation! I LOVE wads of cash… in fact, you’re welcome to send me some any time. Hehe.)
I actually think it happened because I was brave enough to be real with the people I came into contact with.
And yes I know the words authentic and transparent have been bandied about ad nauseam, so I won’t use terms like that.
But I will use terms like be friendly, be engaging, be honest and be down to earth.
Be someone people can reach out to if they feel so inclined… someone that people feel they can trust implicitly to steer them in the right direction.
Hell I’ll even use old school words like be ethical and exercise fracken morals. (Trust me that can be a real rarity in the world at large, let alone online.)
The bottom line is that if you’re in it to win it (sorry… had to channel a little Randy Jackson there), it doesn’t matter much what you build or how you build it, or how much effort you put into making it “pretty” or “functional” or whatever adjective suits your fancy…
There is no empire without the people.
Repeat that out loud please!
And frankly, there are no people if you don’t know how to be real enough to truly connect with them.
Ways to Engage, Connect, and Keep It Real
Everyone in this world is unique.
So what comes naturally to one person may not feel so natural to another… and forcing yourself to do something that doesn’t “fit” will not help you relate to people or engage and inspire them to think or do something differently.
So above all, be yourself in everything you do. Just fight to be your best self and you’ll do great.
With that said, here are a few of the ways I personally engage and connect with others, that work for me.
You’re welcome to try them on for size and see how they work for you as well.
I Practice Something Called TMI
(To Much Information. Duh.)
I share things about myself, my life, and my personality with my readers and followers.
While some might say this is dangerous (or dumb?)… I say life is dangerous. And a little danger is good for the soul.
I feel that if I’ve changed my life for the better and sharing bits of myself or my story might help someone else change their life for the better as well… how can I do anything less?
Not to get all Biblical up in this shiz, but God says we should be the salt and light of the earth. (FYI, that is a shameless plug to my new personal blog, so if you’re curious about God… click it, click it, click it.)
Anyhoo, color me being as salty and earthy and full of light as I can, every day of the week.
I’m Upfront In What I Do and Say
I don’t try to spin a lot of bull shit and I don’t feel the need to become “besties” with every person I meet that speaks to me kindly.
However I do have manners.
Politeness is part of my “Dirty South” charm (and fast becoming a lost art)… so I make it a point to thank people when I feel they deserve thanks and try to always respond to people when I feel a response is warranted.
I’m a Terrible Real-World Networker
I’m so shy and anxiety-ridden with new people it’s almost laughable, as you’d definitely never expect me to be that way based on how I write.
Luckily (or maybe not depending on who you ask) I become much less shy as I get to know you better.
Turns out there are a lot of folks who can relate to this, and apparently that makes me likable!
I don’t even like doing phone calls in my business, because they make me anxious.
Really, you can ask Chris!
I Have a (Dorky) Sense of Humor
And I’m not afraid to share it. (Neener, neener!)
#Dorks and the #DorkBrigade rule!
But really, you’d be surprised at how many people out there who are afraid to share it!
They feel it makes them look silly or stupid or “unprofessional” to be a little goofy.
Sorry, but if being professional means being boring with a stick rammed up the arse… thanks but no thanks.
How about you?
I’m Not Afraid to Reveal My Flaws
I’m not perfect.
My business isn’t perfect.
My life isn’t perfect.
I’m pretty sure even this blog post isn’t perfect, but I don’t give a damn about perfection.
What I do give a damn about is succeeding and living well, despite my flaws and imperfections.
I give a damn about growing, both as a person and as a business.
I give a damn about putting forth my own personal best every chance I get.
Not to mention I give a damn about living life on my terms, whether those happen to gel with yours or not.
Finally, I’m Grateful
I’m a firm believer that actively practicing the art of gratitude, striving to be a giver rather than a taker, and putting a positive spin on things even when they feel pretty bleak can wreak an amazing and exhilarating bit of havoc in your life.
Try it sometime… you might be pleasantly surprised.
When you begin giving more than taking, and expressing your gratitude for the life you’ve got right now, while spreading a little positive cheer… you’ll find that more wonderful connections begin to surface than you ever thought possible.
You’ll attract amazing people into your life like a moth to a flame, and before you know it… your empire will be overflowing with all the awesomeness. (OK, perhaps it begins as more of a trickle, but hey… gotta start somewhere!)
Testosterone and muscle isn’t the only way to go about building something amazing. Ever watch the movie 300? (Yes I know it’s a fracken movie, but every movie has a kernel of truth people, stay with me here.)
Sparta was backed by some pretty strong and amazing women. Women who weren’t afraid to show a little vulnerability and who were just as willing to fight for their lives and their empire as their men were.
Girl style if you will.
So operate your business and grow your empire from a place of integrity… throw a little salt and light around… be willing to laugh a little and give perfection the middle finger… and keep on keepin’ it real…
You’ll find that your people begin to appear and multiply naturally, before you even realize it’s happening.
That’s how you begin to grow your own digital empire with actual staying power… and build a business (and life) you can be proud of.
Over to You
Do you share pieces of yourself with your readers? Or are you too scared to show folks the real you? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.