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领导力

混个脸熟就能赚钱,了解一下新型创业导师

Laura Entis 2018年08月09日

对于这类创业导师来说,曝光度造就成功,成功带来更多的曝光度。

Illustration by Sam Peet

作为创业者成功学导师,克里斯·温菲尔德会定期举办会议,传授自我推广的艺术,而对于他本人而言,生活和教学内容已经混为一体。长期以来,上下班的路程都是他录视频的背景,他在视频里滔滔不绝地谈论商业成败并放上Facebook。每当有进账,他都会发Instagram,激励粉丝。和女儿去逛糖果店,他也能受到启发,思考坚持的意义,还会放上社交网站和粉丝分享。温菲尔德的感想大部分都是泛泛而谈,简直像是励志海报上的节选。

温菲尔德绝非唯一一个把生活变成LinkedIn主题真人秀的人。这一策略是由像精神领袖一样的商业人物加里·维纳查克推广起来的,在一些创业群体中十分流行,尤其是那些把自己定位为导师或者咨询师的群体。内在逻辑十分简单:成功和曝光度是这枚闪光硬币的正反两面。曝光度造就成功,成功带来更多的曝光度,不断循环往复,过程中还必然伴随着在社交媒体上发起超级话题、引发文化潮流、发布视频片段。

如果觉得这种生活听起来就很累,你不是一个人。瑞贝卡·赫兰是名品牌战略师,说话温柔,曾就职企鹅、联合利华、纽约大学斯特恩商学院,生了二胎后决定闯荡一番。最近交了2500美元参加了温菲尔德一场一天半的会议,学习如何“显著提升曝光率”。

赫兰说很高兴她去了,因为她遇上了一些有意思又充满活力的人,还因此又注册了温菲尔德的另外两场活动。但她也意识到,温菲尔德式的自我推销简直无处不在。一刷新Facebook,全部都是她在会议上结识的人们在发推广资料。“每次我打开Facebook主页,都能看到有人发了视频,我有点崩溃。”她说。最近,她决定暂别社交媒体喘口气,这样也好专心维护现有客户,和现实生活中的朋友多来往。总体感觉好多了。然而这一切和她知道她应该要做的事情恰恰相反:她应该生产更多内容,这样才能和粉丝多互动,才能涨粉。换句话说,她应该更像温菲尔德。

也许这些标准本来就不对。毕竟,没有证据表明自我营销做的好就能当个好导师。品牌公司Vivaldi的首席创意师汤姆·爱杰罗说,当然,对于咨询师来说,维持广泛优质的在线活跃度非常重要。

但永不停歇地活跃在社交媒体上能取得的效果可能被夸大了。“人们盲目相信维持个人品牌(的重要性),但这会占据从事其它活动的时间和精力。”康奈尔大学助理教授及《用你的爱好(不)赚钱:性别、社交媒体、励志》的作者布鲁克·艾林·达菲说。

想获得新客户,口口相传和每天在社交网站上更新状态发视频效果一样好,而社交网站上的信息很容易沉没在达菲所说的“不害臊的社交媒体和个人营销狂欢”中。赫兰的大部分客户都是别人推荐的,这是她一开始误信的策略,因为这种策略和用写满她优秀品质的博文轰炸社交媒体主页相比,没那么主动,成功也更偶然。

但对于大多数的导师和咨询师而言,“做企业过程中最重要的并非推广,更重要的是提供有形的产品和服务,帮助人们提升现在工作。”社交网站战略师及数字咨询公司Digimentor创始人希瑞·斯林瓦森说:“多不一定意味着好。”

最好能停下来想想你的目标是什么。如果目标是用你的专业、经验和技能为固定数量的客户提供实实在在的服务,斯林瓦森建议你从小处着眼,再有组织地逐步扩大规模。有针对性的社交战略可能有用,但并非必须,尤其是那些已经建立了强大线下网络的人更不需要这么做。

温菲尔德的故事却并非如此。在他和别人共同创办的搜索引擎优化公司2013年破产后,他重新调整了个人定位,把自己定义为一个在个人发展、生产力、公共宣传领域提供指导的导师,最终在各种平台上都聚集了数十万的粉丝。他靠的不是原有客户或硬资历,而是个人经历,通过上传日常对于失败、感恩、“相信过程”(“失败不是从点A走到点B……而是离开点A。”)的思考和视频来提供指导。“我把自己当成活体实验。”他说,而且他觉得有义务和粉丝分享自己的挣扎和胜利。

“最终我想传达的信息是希望人们可以建立更多联系”,他说,“希望人们能和其他有创造力的人们多建立联系,希望他们能和自己最大的潜力建立联系。”

换句话说,他卖的是指导性的哲学想法和方式,而非任何确切的产品或服务。我问他每天都在做什么,他告诉我“我的大部分时间都用来帮助别人,和别人对话。”

温菲尔德是个导师,又指导大量的其他导师按照他的形象进行自我营销,他把自我推广变成了一种商品,用举办会议和研讨会的形式出售,这是种非常现代还带点循环性的商业模式。

但斯林瓦森提醒道,这不见得是个适合所有人的商业模式。如果你不想在网上“沽名钓誉”,想要实实在在地当好导师或咨询师,或许更好的策略是少花点时间在社交网站上更新日常,多花点时间为现有客户提供帮助,建立线下网络,发展有针对性的(而且可操作的)社交战略。对于绝大多数创业者、导师和咨询师而言,“成功不是源自对个人生活的夸夸其谈。”他说。(财富中文网)

本文另一版本发表在《财富》杂志2018年8月1日刊,名为《影响之下》。

译者:Agatha

FOR ENTREPRENEUR and success coach Chris Winfield, who holds regular conferences on the art of self-promotion, life and content blend together. His commute is the backdrop for a series of videos—live-streamed on Facebook—in which he spouts stream-of-consciousness musings about success and failure in business. A journal entry doubles as a motivational Instagram post. A visit to the candy store with his daughter is the impetus for a lesson on the importance of persistence, a conversation he broadcasts to his followers. Many of the takeaways are so broad, they feel ripped from an inspirational poster.

Winfield is far from the only person to turn his life into a LinkedIn-themed, one-man reality show. The strategy, popularized by guru-like business figures such as Gary Vaynerchuk, has become widespread among a certain entrepreneurial set, particularly those who market themselves as coaches and consultants. The underlying message is simple: Success and exposure are two sides of the same shiny coin. Exposure begets success, success begets more exposure, and the cycle repeats in a flurry of hashtags, memes, and video clips.

If that sounds exhausting to you, you’re not alone. Consider Rebecca Horan—a soft-spoken brand strategist with experience at Penguin, Unilever, and NYU Stern School of Business—who decided to strike out on her own after having her second child. She recently paid $2,500 to attend one of Winfield’s day-and-a-half conferences, which was marketed to attendees as a way to “skyrocket your exposure.”

Horan says she’s glad she went; she met some interesting, energetic people, and has since signed up for two more of Winfield’s events. But she has also learned that Winfield’s brand of self-promotion can be overwhelming. Her Facebookfeed is now overrun with marketing material from people she connected with after the event. “Every time I open it up, there’s a video playing,” she says. “It kind of wears me out.” Recently, she took a break from social media, which allowed her to focus her attention on existing clients and reconnect with her real life friends. She felt better overall. And yet it ran counter to everything she knew she was supposed to do: generate more content, so she could engage her followers, so she could grow her audience. In other words, be more like Winfield.

Perhaps these are the wrong metrics. After all, there’s no proof that being good at self-promotion makes you a good coach. For consultants, having a broad and well-optimized online presence is undoubtedly important, says Tom Ajello, chief creative officer of the brand-strategy firm Vivaldi.

But it’s possible the benefits of nonstop social media activity have been overstated. “People are encouraged to put their blind faith in [the importance of] maintaining a consistent personal brand, but this draws away time and energy from other activities,” says Brooke Erin Duffy, an assistant professor at Cornell University and the author of (Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work.

Word of mouth is often just as effective in getting new clients as posting daily updates and livestreams, messages that can easily get lost in what Duffy calls an “unabashed celebration of social media and personal branding.” Most of Horan’s clients are from referrals, a strategy she mistrusted at first because it felt less proactive and more serendipitous than blasting her feed with superlatives about her qualifications.

But for most coaches and consultants, “building a business is much less about promotion [than] it is about offering tangible products and services that can help people be better at what they do,” says Sree Sreenivasan, a social media strategist and the founder of the digital consultancy Digimentors. “More is not necessarily better.”

It helps to stop and consider what you’re trying to accomplish. If the aim is to provide a set number of clients with a tangible service that aligns with your expertise, experience, and skill set, Sreenivasan recommends starting small and scaling up organically. A targeted social strategy can help in this regard, but it’s not always necessary, particularly for individuals who already have a strong off-line network.

Winfield’s endgame is different. After the search engine–optimization firm he cofounded went bankrupt in 2013, he pivoted, repositioning himself as a personal development, productivity, and publicity coach, eventually amassing tens of thousands of followers on a handful of platforms. In place of previous clients or hard credentials, he relied on his own experiences, posting daily videos and musings on failure, gratitude, and “trusting the process.” (“Faith isn’t about going from point A to point B … It’s about leaving point A.”) “I look at myself as a living experiment,” he says, and he feels an obligation to share his struggles and triumphs with his followers.

“At the end of the day, my message is that I want people to connect more,” he says. “I want people to connect more to other creative people, and I want them to connect to their fullest potential.”

In other words, he’s selling more of a guiding philosophy and way of being than any specific product or service. When I ask him what he actually does every day, he tells me that “a lot of my time and my days are spent simply helping people and having conversations.”

A coach who coaches legions of other coaches to market themselves in his own guru-like image, Winfield has turned self promotion into a commodity that he sells in the form of conferences and seminars. It’s a very modern, if somewhat circular, business model.

But not, Sreenivasan cautions, one that works for everyone. For those who aren’t interested in online quasi-fame and instead want to build a reputable coaching or consulting practice, a better strategy might be spending less time posting daily updates and more time aiding existing clients, off-line networking, and developing a targeted (and manageable) social strategy. For the vast majority of entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants, “success is not driven by blasting out your personal life,” he says.

A version of this article appears in the August 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “Under The Influence.”

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