Stop Hiding Behind the Internet and Connect Personally

We all need to “market” ourselves to some extent, even if your focus is your own employees. Massive amounts of time and money are spent on creating websites, blogs, newsletters, brochures, etc. in order to avoid what we actually need to be doing – connecting personally with others.

I work with many non-profit leaders who must do fund raising. Many focus on a Wow website, a compelling video, a social media campaign, or weekly blog posts. When the money doesn’t come pouring in, they increase their efforts – more videos and daily blog posts. It’s the Internet version of “if you build it they will come.”

In the Internet Age, marketing is more than ever about your personal connection with others. Just as being super busy does not indicate success, neither does 25 Facebook or Twitter posts a day indicate personal connection.

A Web presence serves as a legitimizer, not an activator. In other words, a Web presence is a back-up to your other efforts. It’s the “more information” or “remember me” presence, not “Hi, my name is Keith Webb. Buy my services.”

Why We’re Afraid to Connect Personally

Especially when starting out, it takes personal connection to get someone into action. Nothing beats a personal conversation, personal letter, or phone call. Yet, for many of us this is the last thing we want to do. Why? We’re uncomfortable presenting ourselves. Uncomfortable asking for action. And afraid of hearing “no.”

Many of us are using social media, websites, blogs, and newsletters to hide – and, ironically, to avoid putting ourselves out there.

Three words for you: Get Over It.

If you don’t believe in your mission, your contribution, your product, yourself – then why should someone else? Why should they invest in what you are offering if you are afraid to talk about it directly with them?

Order of Effective Marketing Activities

Here is a common list of marketing activities, in order of effectiveness. Notice how the personal connection decreases as you go down the list.

  1. Direct contact and follow-up
  2. Networking and referral-building (in-person, personal email, etc)
  3. Public speaking (speech, seminar, workshop)
  4. Writing and publicity (blog, newsletter, articles, book)
  5. Promotional events
  6. Website or advertising

You have something valuable to offer. The right person will recognize that if you offer it to them. The more personal the connection you make, the more likely you will discover that right person and they will discover you.

Question: What are you going to do today to connect personally with someone? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is an author, speaker and Professional Certified Coach. He helps on-the-go leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    • Rich Rice

      Great points Keith. I am reading a short book called “the spirituality of fundraising” by Henri Nouwen. A must read.

      • Thanks Rich! Sounds like an interesting book.

      • Sydne

        We give our new missionaries a copy of this book as part of their fundraising training. It’s an eye-opener about how fundraising in itself IS ministry (or can be, if done with a proper mindset).

    • Great post brother. I especially applaud your comment… Many of us are using social media, websites, blogs, and newsletters to hide – and, ironically, to avoid putting ourselves out there.

      • Thanks Brent. Working from “home” means I need to make even more effort to get out an connect!

        • Ditto for me. I don’t work from home every day but it’s funny (and sad) how the home habits carry over outside of the home because of mobile devices.

    • tony

      Thanks for writing this post. I think getting connected to a big “why” is essential to success, regardless of the field.

    • Sydne

      My main coaching context is with new missionaries during their initial fundraising as they join our organization. The “order of effective marketing activities” is EXACTLY what we’ve been teaching for years regarding fundraising. The most effective approach for raising ongoing funding support for a ministry is direct contact and follow-up, but many people prefer the indirect/less personal approaches. Those approaches may work for a one-time, short-term event or missions trip, but they’re usually minimally effective for someone who plans to work in ministry longer term. We urge our staff to do the bulk of their fundraising in the same way they would do evangelism or discipleship — direct, in person, one-to-one. Thanks for a great article that reinforces our fundraising training.

      • Sydne, thanks for commenting. Your experience is helpful to hear! The basic rule of thumb with fundraising or marketing is: more personal is better. That is reflected in the list above.

    • John

      I’m late to the party in responding but had to comment. Keith, you nailed it again. For some of us it can be tough to even get the website out there, but you are right, the website is background info; it leaves a noticeable vacuum if it isn’t there, but it isn’t connection. Connecting is the gold.

      The very first letter that I put in the mailbox offering to coach a local leader resulted in a phone call within two days taking me up on the offer. Within the week we set the date for our first conversation.

      Obviously “a contract” (or contribution, or sale) isn’t always guaranteed, but those with whom we connect will hopefully experience an authenticity and a sense that we are in community.

      • John, you’re right! Especially with offering coaching, a personal connection point allows them to experience us in a relational way. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s encouraging to hear.

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    • Denise

      Excellent article Keith, and spot on why those in Marketing get so frustrated and blame Sales when their ‘marketing’ efforts don’t magically generate revenue on their own.. At some point, somebody has to pick up the phone, and Sales knows this. Marketing ‘pushes’ (advertising), and Sales ‘sells’ by ‘pulling’ out business or personal challenges through effective questioning, and then aligning solutions to the prospect’s areas of ‘pain’… the opposite side of the coin to marketing.

      • True. Most solopenuers do marketing and sales themselves. Since they are busy, the marketing efforts seem to reach more people and be more efficient. But of course, what is effective is sometimes different.