We developed it cooperatively: I shared what I did in my workshops with Deb and John, and John added his expertise as a consultant working with business, and Deb did piles of research.
We talked a lot in the workshop about how the world is changing, and how paradigms are shifting. John came up with this really great graphic about the levels of engagement from the least or minimum level of engagement to becoming what Steve Jagger and Shane Gibson call a Thought Leader.
In the past, it was quite normal for us to not share the inner workings of our business or our art practice. What if someone stole our ideas?? We have been protective and controlled. The problem with that is that people tend not to trust businesses that are tight, protective and controlling. We don’t “like” them. And why should we? There’s nothing warm or human to like.
The lowest level, the entry level, into this new world, then, is disclosure and transparency. It’s being proactive, rather than reactive when something goes wrong. And it’s powerful. We’re human, and we know that other humans make mistakes. Owning up to them and trying to set them right is a very powerful way to gain people’s trust.
Level 2 is broadcasting meaningful information, and what that means is that you are now sharing information with your audience or clientele. Not just about your products or services or artwork, but other stuff, too. Things that you find interesting that you think other people might find interesting. Or, you could share information along an educational or informative bent. For example, if you sell Creme Brulee torches, you could start page that listed different recipes for Creme Brulee, or recipes for other things that you could use the torch for.
When you start to exchange messages, you’re at Level 3. Information now becomes two-way instead of just one-way. You are having conversations with the people in your community, the people that buy and use your product, service, or artwork. You’re asking them what they want, how you can help them. You are responding to them via blogs, Facebook, or Twitter.
Finally, the top level is leading conversations that engage. This is likely where we all aspire to be, for many reasons. “Thought Leaders” are sought after in this world: look at guys like Gary Vaynerchuck, Seth Godin, and others who are thought of as gurus. They have huge followings, books, and speaking engagements, and make a fantastic income. The challenge with being a thought leader is that you have to be creative and talk about stuff that no one else is talking about yet. But if you can do that, fame and fortune could be yours! No problem, hey?
Where do feel like you are at on the continuum?