If you want fans, be a fan.
He said, “If you want fans, be a fan.” It was sort of an off hand response to someone asking about building an audience for your work. It was said in the context of gaining followers on social media. I’ve seen that model work, but the idea has much broader application. For example, what if we applied the idea of being a fan to getting along with other and building community at work?
I get it. I say fan and you see hundreds of teenage girls screaming for their favorite pop star. Or, grown men in frozen air wearing cheese shaped hats while their team marches down field. Let’s dial it back a bit. What if it wasn’t fanatical, but practical? We wouldn't have to scream or stand in freezing weather, just pay attention and say something.We can draw inspiration, maybe learn something and make a few friends along the way.
For example, a painter can appreciate a musician for the time she spends alone to refine skills, and get her work to market –even though paint wasn’t part of the formula. Likewise a salesperson can appreciate the administrative team’s product forecast. Or you the engineer can appreciate a marketer’s ability to relate a product to a customer need. These people can spend time together because they see the value in the other's work.
In addition to paying attention, a fan tells people about they've seen. Sometimes they celebrate it as part of group, and other times through something like fan mail.
What’s any of this have to do with getting ahead at work? Well, work is a place where “being liked” helps. It helps others to know that they are liked, and it helps us be more likable.
Need some science to explain how “want fans, be a fan” works? Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke host a podcast called Two Guys on Your Head. In a recent episode, they explored the idea of reciprocity. You got it. I do something for you (i.e. praise your work), and you do something for me (i.e. compliment my teamwork).
Being a fan may be counterintuitive in some workplaces. You’ve worked there. It’s competitive, and your success seems to rely on besting the other guy. There’s plenty of science to refute that. See the super chicken model. (Dang, I’m bringing so much science to you. How do you like that?)
It’s also worth noting that fans don’t merely state their affinity, they buy into it and act live it. Taylor Swift fans buy her music. Packer fans cheer at their games. Office fans write a note, send an email or speak up in a meeting to let others know that someone is being awesome.
It’s worth noting that much of a fan’s affection is shared peer-to-peer and not sent in the direction of, to use the previous example, Taylor or the Packers. That’s how fan bases are built. That’s how more people become familiar with your brand.
Want to know more about this idea? Let’s talk. Until then be a fan. Enjoy the work of others. It may even inspire more of your own good work. Before long you’ll have fans of your own. I can almost hear them now.
Work can be a lonely place. It doesn't have to be. We all want to be part of something, but how?
We all want to feel seen. Sometimes it starts by being there for somebody.
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How knowing your power (e.g. personality, talent, skill) and how to use it in the workplace helps you and others get more done.
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PAST & PRESENT
At its peak, this social media, public speaking and blog based company culture initiative reached over 500,000 followers a week. Both the audience and I learned a lot about what does and doesn't move people toward their professional best.
As Consulting Chief Marketing Officer for a 275,000 member sorority, my role alongside some of the membership world's most innovative women, includes all things branding, digital strategist, marketing partner, and communications coach with a Heart for Hearing and Speech.
Two men each at different times in my professional development shared their business savvy and leadership experiences with me.
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