30 October 2009

How to launch a book on a shoestring budget (3)

This is a series of blogposts with a view behind the scenes of the official booklaunch event for my new book 'Friends with Benefits'.
If you
haven't read
part 1 and part 2, just follow the links.

Tomorrow we are exactly 3 weeks before the official booklaunch event.
In the past few weeks I have ordered the furniture and props for the event, contacted some friends to lend me a hand during the evening of the event, started to prepare for the main presentation and spend LOTS of time in contacting potential sponsors and inviting guests.
By now already +90 people have registered. There are max. 120 seats available in the auditorium.

Because of the financial crisis which has been going on for this entire year, finding sponsors was a very hard job. A first round of mailings and cold calling had zero result.
I created a complete new offer and started all over again ... today we have 6 sponsors who will cover the overhead costs of rent, insurance and logistics. With a minor extra cost I will also be able to offer a free first drink at the networking event, which takes place right after the official part in the auditorium. Of course additional sponsors are still very welcome ;-)

I have seen networking events drop down from +100 attendees to 30 or 40 in the last year, so I already knew it wouldn't be easy to fill up the room. A few weeks ago I started to invite guests, contacts, VIP's and Journalists. I opened meetingpages on my website, on Ecademy and on Facebook. To my surprise the journalists were almost the very first to respond and I'm already sure of some press coverage.

So these are the final 3 weeks before the event. The new book is already available on the Ecademy Press Webshop, on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

My BlackStar colleagues started to spread some noise on Twitter, Facebook and other networks to promote my book and event ... Thank you guys !
Now it's fingers crossed ... and maybe I'll see you on Nov. 21 in Diest. I'll be the short guy on stage doing the main presentation ;-)

27 October 2009

The new features of Ecademy v4

Monday evening I did a short presentation on the new features of Ecademy v4 at the regional networking event of Ecademy Limburg.
I thought it might be interesting to share the slides on my blog.

21 October 2009

Has networking changed in the last 4 years ?

This week my new book 'Friends with Benefits' was launched onto the virtual shelves of the Ecademy Press webshop and Amazon.co.uk.
Next month, 21/11/2009, the official Booklaunch-event will take place in my hometown Diest (B).

Because this new book is launched exactly 4 years after my first book, 'A Girlfriend in Every City', it also shows the change (or not ?) that happened in social networking during this period.

This gave me the idea to pour the complete text of both books into Word-clouds, to spot some major differences and similarities.

A Girlfriend in Every City (2005)

Friends with Benefits (2009)

It seems that after 4 years the focus has shifted a little bit from business networking to social networking which got much broader and 'part of the furniture'.
In general not much has changed. Networking still isn't about business, but about people. Networking is still about building a reputation and gaining trust.
Following people on networks like Twitter is still pretty new but became a natural habbit in a very short time.

I'm absolutely shure that if I had written this book 6 months later, one of the buzz-words would have been 'Real-time' because that's the technology all online social media are now implementing.

It's interesting to see that networking actually didn't change that much over the last 4 years, it did however get accepted by a much broader audience. More and more people feel the need to start networking because today's world is demanding it !

15 October 2009

Linkedin hits 50 million users today

My very first experiences with online networking were already in early 2004. The very first online network I discovered was LinkedIn, which started up one year earlier in May 2003 as a very formal online directory for business people.
In those very early days LinkedIn already had about 20.000 users in Belgium and 1,6 million members worldwide. Among those early adopters I stayed on top of the ranking in Belgium for almost two years.

Today LinkedIn has hit the 50 Million users marker ... 50 million business people worldwide can now be found on one large network.

From the very start LinkedIn always had one outstanding feature. Whenever you are looking to get in touch with someone, you will search for his or her profile and immediately you will also see which people you have in common in your networks. An introduction by someone you know is just a small step away.

Of course LinkedIn also changed over the years. I saw them introduce paid accounts, offering much more options which can be very useful for some users (e.g. headhunters !).
More recently they also introduced applications which can help you to build your credibility.
The best example for this is the SlideShare application which enables you to add Powerpoint presentations to your profile.

Even today LinkedIn is still known as the "Yellow Pages" for business people, the second spot (after Google) where people are going to search on your name. They became the reference website for business networking. This should already be reason enough for everyone to have a profile on this platform and keep it up to date.

Excellent tips on the use of LinkedIn can be found in Jan Vermeiren's great book 'How to REALLY use LinkedIn'.

13 October 2009

How to launch a book on a shoestring budget (2)

This is a series of blogposts with a view behind the scenes of the booklaunch event for my new book 'Friends with Benefits'.
If you haven't read part 1, you'll find it

The next step in organizing my event was ordering the necessary props for dressing up the venue. I had the bookcover designed by a professional graphics studio and I asked them to also create a rollup banner, picturing me and my books. This rollup banner wouldn't be just for this event, but can also be used on all the speaking opportunities following the launch of this book. This rollup banner will be on stage to bring some colour next to the obvious projection screen and microphone stand.

I have always loved glamorous opening-events where people are having their pictures taken when entering the event, against a background with a logo-wall. Because my budget was nearly non existing, I started looking for the most budget-friendly way to get such a promowall. After receiving a few tips I ended up in the Netherlands, buying something totally different from a large printing company. They indeed could print a large format fabric banner for me, but still it wouldn't be easy to install this at the venue. But then I saw their "promo of the month" for rollup banners which were extremely cheap.
I decided to buy two of these banners and just put them next to each other to form the logo-wall I needed.

Even if this was already 'mission accomplished' for me, I kept thinking on how to maximize the profit from these banners. I decided to have someone move the banners toward the room for the networking event, during the official part with speeches and presentations. The banners will be separated again and they will be placed on each side of the book-stand, completing this stand in a very professional way.
I wanted to share this with you because I think it's a cheap and genius way to use props two times on the same evening, for totally different uses and with a stunning effect.
In the next episode of this series I will share more on how I invited guests and sponsors to the event ...

[to be continued]

9 October 2009

How to launch a book on a shoestring budget

I was a complete novice when I launched my first book 'A Girlfriend in Every City' in November 2005. Except from sending a press release to the couple of journalists I knew, I didn't do much to launch the book.

With my first box of 50 books, I went to an Ecademy networking event in Mechelen and sold them to the attendees.

A nice side-effect of launching a book is that people are starting to see you as someone who knows what he's talking about. Almost immediately I was asked to attend events, congresses and seminars and get up on stage to talk about the topic of my book, Social Networking. Speaking in public and sharing my story became a passion and even today, 4 yours later, I still love to do it.

In just 6 weeks, on Saturday evening 21 November, I will launch my new book 'Friends with Benefits', focusing on networking in the new and changed economy in which we live and work today. By that time the book will already be available on Amazon and other webshops.
This time I planned from the start to have a 'real' launch event, but it wasn't going to be easy ...
My professional activities have been hit very hard by the recession and I don't exactly have a mega-budget available to promote my new book. So I had to organize a launch event on a shoestring budget. In an earlier blogpost I already explained why I worked with Ecademy Press, a cooperative publisher based in Cornwall, UK. Working with them had the advantage that I could buy a 'pack' of services for a very interesting price. This initial cost, together with my first order of books would be more or less the unavoidable cost to start this adventure.
If I want to organize a booklaunch event, I need a venue. And if I want journalists to show up at the event I don't want a backroom of a sleazy pub or a very remote location. No, I need a top-class location which is easy to reach from the center of the city. I decided to go for the 'Cultural Center' in my hometown, located in one of the nicest parts of the city : The medieval beguinage of Diest, registered as a Unesco protected site.
Before I contacted them I learned through their website that they have reduced rates for 'Cultural organisations' who are officially registered at the town hall. I decided to organize my booklaunch together with one of these clubs, Curieus Diest, which enabled me to book the rooms at the lowest price. After setting this up, I contacted the manager of the Cultural Center and agreed on renting the auditorium and a large room for the networking-reception. A few weeks later we visited the venue to discuss details on sound and light for the official part in the auditorium.
The next thing to do is invite people to show up ...

[to be continued]

5 October 2009

Why you should Twitter

Whenever I talk about Twitter to Social Media novices, they never seem to really get the point of why they should be active on Twitter. And answering them the obvious "Because that's where the conversations are taking place" doesn't really seem to hit the spot.
This morning, after reading an interesting roundup on Twitter by @LouisGray, it suddenly came to me.
The best way to prove to novices that this thing is not going to go away, that it's definitely here to stay ... is the fact that it already found it's way into our everyday dictionary of words. And yes, I'm guilty too. Whenever I want to change my status updates, whether it's on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media website ... I also say "I'm going to Twitter this"
Whenever a brand reaches that stage that everyone starts using it to name a product or an action, it's solid gold. From my childhood years I still remember everyone using the word 'bic' for any ballpoint pen. It was almost like Bic owned the rights to the name of any ballpoint pen in the world.
In more recent years we have all started using "I'm going to Google this" whenever we wanted to search for something on the Internet. And because everyone already started using "to Google" in their everyday language, competitors don't have a serious chance anymore.
Congratulations Twitter ... You have made it to our everyday language too !
Let's Twitter this ;-)