These are the notes from the Salon from Jan 20, 2021.
As the saying goes: do good and talk about it! Especially at the beginning, creating content is not enough. You need to spread the word to other people by going where they already are. It is simple but not easy. Many creators shy away from this part.
After a quick introduction to the term seeding, we opened up the discussion. One of the most common obstacles surfaced right away: it feels awkward to go to a community and promote your content. Isn't that shameless self-promotion? This was a great invitation to talk about a fundamental mindset shift. Put the focus on value exchange.
A value exchange mindset
You create value first in order to ask for something in return. All our societies are built upon this fundamental principle. We don't want to be the one who is just taking and we don't want such people as part of our team. But everyone respects that we have to make a living, especially if you show up to provide value.
Providing value with a post
You can provide value with a post by tailoring it to the community. You bring relevant content to a place where it is convenient for everyone interested in the topic to see. I would recommend not to put cliffhangers in there or point to your content in a spammy way. Creating value on the spot should be on the top of your head. But after you created the value, it is OK to ask for a small part in return. And it can just be a link in your signature or an invitation to dive deeper in an article on your blog.
A generic example of how to provide value with your content is to post your top three creations at the end of the year to a community where your expertise is relevant. Curating the highlights from your work is a sign that you treat the attention of other people with respect.
Providing value with a comment
The same applies to comments. You don't want to leave a generic comment with a link to your content. Instead, you engage with the post of another person, give feedback or appreciation, and then add something from your content in a tactful way. Massimo put it nicely that you should see the effort it took to engage with the post and to be part of a conversation. The comment should be able to deliver sufficient value on its own. When creating such a comment, there is no objection to add a link to your content. It can be the source of a quote you added or just an invitation to dive deeper at a particular place.
A value exchange mindset can make you a great community member while still standing in for your expertise as a knowledge entrepreneur.
My two million dollars
Reddy came up with an amazing mental hack to think about your comments and feedback. We are used to the phrase "add my 2 cents" if we speak up to a community. But what if you would think of it from a position to "add my 2 million dollars"? I love this because of two effects: it makes you recognize that your expertise can actually provide value to other people—many experts discount this far too easily. And it can act as a healthy reminder for when to speak up. Only engage if you think you are providing value at this moment—and it doesn't have to be exactly 2 million dollars.
Communities are already rewarding but you are still allowed to make a living
Massimo emphasized how much value he draws from communities and the connection to other people and we all firmly agreed. This can make it even harder to ask as you are already getting something out of the connection with other people. Again, this is normal and poses no conflict with the requirement that we all have to make a living. It is also fair and well respected, that if you provide value, it is more than appropriate to ask a part of that value in return. You also can stand for something, as we all want to know the profile of the people we engage within a community.
You satisfy a need, you don't have to create it
We touched on the fact that technology and big data makes it easier and easier for companies to know how they can provide value for their clients. At the same time, it allows creating needs that haven't existed before. It is a spectrum that you can see all around in our societies. When the basics needs are met, there will be new needs created to fuel the economy.
As a knowledge entrepreneur, you have a choice. There are plenty of real, unmet needs in our societies that you can engage with. You can choose, where you want to provide value with your expertise. You can make the richer richer, or provide essentials to the poor. It's both possible. The great fact for knowledge entrepreneurs is, that there is no corporate policy or boss to make this decision for you.
Make time for seeding
As seeding poses a significant barrier to many people, you should make deliberate time for it. I recommend a time block of at least 2 hours per week for seeding activities. Put it in your calendar, don't skip it. It can also help to do this in a form that allows you to build up social accountability while also learning from others.
Use the right ratio and re-use your content
As a general rule, I would go with a 5 to 1 ratio. For each post, you create, leave 5 comments on the work of others. Posting and commenting is different in a couple of aspects. Writing a post takes typically more time than writing a comment. While a post is typically seen by more people it is also less relevant to most and often draws less engagement than a comment. For a comment, at least the author will pay attention and the other people self-selected for being especially interested in the topic of the post.
As a post takes significant time to create and is not guaranteed to resonate with a community, I highly recommend re-using its content. Ideally, you should create the post in the community first and then add it a few weeks later to your garden of expertise.
Reddy shared how he got into the mindset of evolving his content. A bit from a conversation can turn into a tweet, then into an article or newsletter content. Some of it may even end up in his book.
[Jan 24th, 21: replaced the invitation with the notes]