“First, you must build awareness of who you are, … Next, you try to grab their attention… [by being] entertaining, informative, and/or useful. Then you develop that awareness across several groups until you are considered an authority in as many of these groups as possible.”
In order to be an affective ‘Agent Zero’ we must follow 5 simple, yet very important steps. Many Agent Zeros will naturally do these steps without realizing it. That’s what makes them so good at what they do. As you read through my explanations of these steps think about your own position within your church and make a list of how you apply each step to your specific area of ministry.
Bottom line… we have to make ourselves known. The simplest way to make yourself known is to answer the simple question, “What are you doing right now?” As we continually update our online statuses each day. We are getting our names “out there” in a simple, non-intrusive way. The strategy that I’ve chosen to attempt to follow is to leave messages all over the place. I’ll post twitter and facebook updates but I’ll also comment on some of my favorite blogs and interact with other readers of said blogs. Another strategy I use is having the same avatar across the net. I use the same silly looking picture of my face on twitter as I do for Intense Debate and Gravatar.
Another great way to gain awareness is to keep hanging out at the same place. In the same way that Julien hangs out at the same cafe working on his laptop… I hang out in the same Starbucks and the same blogs. The baristas at my Starbucks are all facebook friends with me and they trust me. I’ve made some friendships with people through blogging and twitter, one of the ways I was included in on this group blogging project!
In today’s day and age, which is an old saying but you know what I mean, there are many different forms of media vying for our attention. The average time a person spends watching a YouTube video is 30 seconds. So by this principle, if you can’t get someone to be interested in you in 30 seconds, you’ve lost them. The point here is that in order to gain the attention of others and make them interested in us, we must first be interested in others. We’ve all been following this principle in our offline lives for years. Think about why your friends like you. It’s probably because you’ve shown a mutual interest in them. I have a number of people I call my “close friends”. Sometimes we ask each other to help us with something. We call it… pulling the friend card. There’s a give and take to any relationship in the ‘real world’ so why would it be any different online?
One other thing I want to focus on real quickly is the face-to-face ‘meetup’. I recently had the opportunity to go to Cultivate and STORY where I was able to shake the hands of people I’ve been friends, or twiends with online for a few months. The meetup is important. It goes back to the whole concept of getting your name out there and gaining attention.
What kind of influence do you have on your friends? Do your friends trust your opinion? This all depends. For example, my friends and my online twiends might trust me when it comes to worship planning and using the power of social media to work for a church. Those same friends and online twiends however would never trust me on the subject of horse racing. I know nothing about it. It’s important to have a relationship with the people you’re trying to influence. As I previously mentioned, we need to build awareness of ourselves by being a constant presence in many different networks. When we consistently preach the same message within the many different networks we’re involved with people will start to trust us. So be true to yourself and be true to others. We need to not pretend to be one person with one group and another person with another group. Consistency in message and consistency in presence is important to building influence.
We need to make sure that whenever someone does a Google search on our name, the stuff that pops up is current. The cool thing about the web is that it keeps a history of who we are. So in the same way that consistency in message is important for building influence it’s equally important because years from now… a blog post you wrote, could find itself getting some attention again. We’ve all heard stories about people who have not been hired, or even fired, because of a scandalous image of them posted on the internet. It’s important for us to manage our appearance online. Get those images of you taken down, or even better… don’t put yourself in positions where those types of pictures of you can be taken in the first place!
I’m currently the Tech Director at my church. That means that I’m also the IT person on staff. I’ve been going through the long process of changing our church’s website and looking at different email hosting options. The first thing I did when I started this process was search twitter for other church media gurus. I went through the people I follow, people I trust because of their previous updates and blog posts on similar subjects. I searched their blogs for recommendations. I quickly came to the conclusion that a “Clover site” and Google Apps were both good solutions that I needed to look into further. Without trusting others who have similar positions in their churches as I have in mine, I was able to quickly narrow my focus. I consider the church media guru people I follow on twitter authorities on the same field that I am.
The bottom line to being an effective Agent Zero is that we need to keep connecting to and building a consistent presence on a number of different networks. Only then can we grow our own knowledge on a number of subjects but we can also help others get the answers they’re looking for.[image by generated]