"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm on "Professional Storyteller" site--Now What???

Thanks to Jason Alba, author of “I’m on LinkedIn—Now What???” and co-author of “I’m on Facebook—Now What???”, for giving permission to adapt his marketing principles to the “Professional Storyteller” site. Picture was taken at Utah First Fridays event on March 7, 2008.

You learned about the social networking site “Professional Storyteller” and signed up, especially because it was free. Or someone—like me—urged you to check it out. If you simply treated the site like a directory listing, then I invite you to discover the profitable level of proactive marketing.

Before arriving on “Professional Storyteller”, perhaps you explored sites from MySpace to Facebook to LinkedIn. You connected with these places only to wonder why. You are not alone. Millions of people create a profile on these popular places and let them gather cyber dust. “Professional Storyteller” will never reach millions of people in members though will most likely reach in the hundreds or thousands instead. You have the choice and the opportunity to challenge the mainstream sign-up attitudes.

Jason Alba, author and CEO of JibberJobber.com, mentioned that none of these networking sites replace each other as they focus on different demographic groups that overlap to one’s advantage. For anywhere online you can be found such as a directories, social networking sites, websites, blogs, etc., then be sure to have a link to drive traffic to each one so you create an online circle.

He considered a social networking site (SNS) as “a place to find and be found”. As a storyteller, it is nice to “be found” and so the “Professional Storyteller” site may make that goal easier to accomplish.

Benefit more from “Professional Storyteller” and social networking sites:

1. Create a compelling summary/biography

2. Make and welcome “friends”

3. Read other bios of members of the site and/or go to their websites

4. Submit questions and/or answers at least once a week

5. Share audio and video samples and invite feedback from “friends”

6. Announce your storytelling events

7. Recommend other people

Create a compelling summary/biography
Some people may post two words to describe themselves while others write several paragraphs in the “About Me” section. Somewhere within your script, Alba urged that the writing be compelling, searchable and readable.

To judge the compelling factor, you could turn to friends and family and even strangers to see if they are inspired to read beyond the first word.

Regardless of how exciting you write the script, some people are scanners so that keywords grab their interest. Be aware of the terms and phrases that someone wanting to hire you would type into an Internet search. Every industry has its lingo so Alba encouraged using “whatever language someone would search for you”.

Being readable involves grammar, spelling and flow of the piece. Your biography reflects how you see yourself as a professional.

Part of the “About Me” section is the photo ID. Upload a picture that reflects your storytelling style rather than risking your reputation.

Make and welcome “friends”
There will always be the types of people who welcome anyone new to the site and then requests to be your friend. You do not have to wait for people to write comments on your page to network.

An online “friend” is either someone you know or someone you would like to know. As storyteller Tim Ereneta shared on the “Professional Storyteller” forum, this is not a person you need to help in the middle of the night or recognize face with name while at a storytelling event.

If you were to draw a line with the left side labeled “known and trusted friends only” and with the right side labeled “anyone who breathes”, Alba revealed that most people probably would mark around the middle of the line for their networking comfort level. He stated the site LinkedIn had special lingo for an extreme people connector with the acronym LION (Linked In Open Networker).

I value the thoughts and ideas of people from various backgrounds and so I tend to be more of a LION. Most of the people I know are storytellers, yet I love to meet people from other industries and see how we could build win-win relationships.

Rather than wait for people to find the site and then extend friendship, I delight in letting other people I already know about the place. All social networking sites have some sort of tab or button to click for automatic invites to be sent. Mass invites are possible by listing one email after another.

Alba warned that the lowest response comes from using the automatic invite option built into the site. The stronger way is to talk to the intended person by phone or at an event and say something like, “By the way, have your heard about this site. . .I will email a link to you.”

Sometimes I have asked people on the phone, “Are you by a computer? Do you have Internet access? Here is how you get there.” I guide the person through the sign-up process.

Read other bios of members of the site and/or go to their websites
I stall in requesting to be an online friend until I write at least one comment on their page. As I read their “About Me” section, I search for what we may have in common. The nice part about “Professional Storyteller” is that everyone already loves stories.

If I come upon a biography that is a couple words long or too general for me to make a specific response, then their website reveals more of the person’s character. Of course, someone may have a fascinating script so that I must check out the person’s site anyway.

If you did go to their website, then mention what you found interesting on it. Most likely that person will then be curious about you and drive more traffic to your website, blog or any other links under your “About Me” section.

Submit questions and/or answers at least once a week
You need to remind people that you exist.

Posting a response takes as little as two minutes, yet the time spent could be enough to build your reputation as an expert. Even questions could give people that impression.

Create a title or short description of your question/response that would intrigue people to click on it. Alba advised to “phrase the question or post so it doesn’t seem like spam”.

You do not have to write an article-long response. One sentence or a couple paragraphs would suffice. If you post through the blog option found on your page, then under the section “Professional Storyteller Blog” on the main page you will find the 20 most recent titles from members. Simultaneously, your post would be one of eight “Latest Activity” on the main page. As people respond to the blog or make a comment on your page, then your photo ID would show as one of eight on the main page. This could be enough to inspire new traffic to your page.

Share audio and video samples and invite feedback from “friends”
Storytelling is the kind of art that is best expressed in the live format. We may not be able to project hologram performances, yet the Internet still provides audio and visual tools to aid the teller.

The left side of your page has “Add Music” to upload stories. As for video, there is a tab on every page on “Professional Storyteller” so that you can add anything of that nature. If you already have things on YouTube, then you could add another place to show them.

Once your audio and video are on display, let others know and invite your online “friends” to give feedback.

Announce your storytelling events
People on the site will be from all over the world. At this point, most are from the United States.

If you give enough notice, people may fit your event in their schedule. If a person has difficulty attending due to distance or timing, then seeing your types of venues could lead to referrals or hiring opportunities.

Recommend other people
Upon hearing wonderful performances or workshops, feel free to let these people know and everyone else on “Professional Storyteller” by publicly saying so on their profile page/wall. Share more than, “You were wonderful”. Alba recommended sharing specifics.

Be sincere in your comments and you may receive recommendations and referrals from others. When you give first, then people are more likely to give to you.

So you can treat “Professional Storyteller” as a directory service or you could make it into something more.

For the “Professional Storyteller” site to truly be powerful, we need to spread the word. After Alba’s presentation, I mentioned that the site had 118 members. He thought that our membership needed to be at least ten times as big to grab attention from art forms and groups outside the traditional storytelling community.

I invite you to make this dream a reality.

For many more ideas, turn to the books by Jason Alba.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799


Sean said...

10 times that number would be 1/2 the members of the NSN. Good luck with that. ;-)

Tim said...

I'm not sure Professional Storyteller should be a portal for the larger outside arts community to "discover" storytelling and storytellers. I think the site's power comes from its internal focus: it's ability to provide a virtual space for storytellers to develop and deepen relationships with each other.... like you have said, it's akin to what happens at a storytelling conference.

It's intentionally a walled garden (even Google can't get in), but I think that's good. (As much as I bemoan existing "walled gardens" such as the Storytell list, I appreciate the site on Ning because it's got better functionality than an email list.)

Sean said...

The ning site wont do much of anyting to elminate the echo chamber issues re: touching the rest of the world. It is fun for some of the storytellers who are building their own set of followers. So, nothing but good wishes from me.

NING is very complex to use, but the discussions have been interesting. The complexity of pulling vs. pushing will be a long term problem.

However, it's the only place to have a few of the first-namers appear, but some are using staff to communicate, LOL. Sadly, first-namer presence most likely won't last for long. "Familiarity breeds contempt" is true in the storytelling world. Being accessible=less mysitique=reduced income.

GOOGLE gets into the ning site just fine, thank you. I get the alerts daily.

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

"Death most resembles a prophet who is without honor in his own land or a poet who is a stranger among his people."--Kahlil Gibran

I would like to replace "poet" with "storyteller".

Many people love building relationships and this often helps the storyteller in being re-invited and in referrals. Who could recommend a stranger?

Besides, the status of "national teller" or "international teller" seems of more importance within our own storytelling community than the world at large.

Sometimes it is grumbled that we do not see these "A" list tellers in attendance at the National Storytelling Conference or other events beyond being featured tellers. There is more harm in that than having an "A" list have a profile page on "Professional Storyteller".

In fact, much benefit and positive public relations would result.

As for the Google search, when I typed "professional storyteller", the "Professional Storyteller" site listed 3rd with "Storyteller.net" listed 11th and one of my comments on "Professional Storyteller" as 13th.

When "storyteller" is typed, then "Storyteller.net" is 1st.

We are far from being a closed garden or wall.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman

Tim said...


The Googlebots have found us?

Stunned silence, followed by Googling "storyteller cat photos."




Cradles head in hands, starts rocking back and forth.

What have I done?

Sean said...

Spiders. Bot. Cat. Oh my. Oh yes.