Most of us know the basics of online platforming by now – slap those links on your home page, post regularly, be engaged. But when I tell people that I do a lot of my best online platform growth at in-person events, I get a lot of raised eyebrows.
It can already feel like a lot when you attend a conference, book festival, book signing or other publishing or promotional event. But if you follow these steps consistently, you can take major headway for your online platform at each event you attend.
Know your goal
You’ll get the most from your efforts to grow your online platform if you go into your event knowing what your top priority is. This is the key starting point, and should drive the tactics you use.
For me, that goal is usually building my email list. So I print out a branded signup sheet beforehand, and lay it out at my booth with a sign promoting the free novella you get when you sign up.
But for you, maybe it’s something else. If you want to grow your Twitter following, be sure to tweet using the event hashtag all day. If you want people to visit your website, make sure you post to your blog about attending the event that morning. And so forth.
Gather your materials
Now that you know your goal, you know what materials you need. For me, as mentioned, this includes my email list signup sheet and a sign promoting my freebie. But often, this is as simple as creating a business card or a promotional piece about your book. Whatever it is, make sure that all your social media details are on it!
I strongly recommend getting a pro to design these materials for you. You will only be taken as seriously as the image you project—but well done materials can contribute to the memorable impression that will prompt people to follow up.
Also, make sure your branding is consistent between your in-person materials, your website, and your social accounts. Make it easy for new followers to say, “oh yes, that’s her!”
The last crucial element to in-person platforming is your lovely self. You can’t connect later with people you don’t meet while you’re there. I know it’s every authors least favorite thing, but you’re going to have to plaster a smile on that face and ask a stranger some questions about themselves. Network, as they say.
However, personally, I have found networking with other writers to be a lot less painful than in other life situations. These are my people! And they’re yours too! We all love the same thing here, so there’s plenty of chatting to be done.
Be yourself, be fully present, and when you say goodbye, hand over one of those nice cards you got designed so you can keep in touch after the event.
A good online platform still consists of the same foundational elements— a website, social network, and a consistent posting presence. But don’t overlook the opportunities available at in-person events. It’s a great way to magnify your efforts, and can be the perfect place to take those new introductions you just made and turn them into longer-term relationships.
So don’t post to social media in isolation—get out there in the real world, too. The richest momentum you can get to build your overall brand and author career will actually come from the synergy between those efforts.
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.