First though here’s the big problem and it’s made of 3 parts: –
- The world is full of things we would find useful but this is dwarfed by the colossal amounts of stuff we don’t need or want.
- Most people don’t have the time to wade through chaff to get to the wheat.
- These days, more than ever before, everybody must continually develop themselves just to stand still.
The worrying part is that almost everybody you engage in conversation on this very subject doesn’t even have the time to realise it applies to them. As if saying “I don’t have time to read, think and experiment and therefore improve myself” is OK in some way. Well it isn’t but if you don’t have time, you don’t have time……
Curation (that new word) – so just what is it?
Consider Google for a moment. To use it you enter a string of words (the selection criteria) and what it does is search this huge heaving mass of information to return you a list of pages it thinks you’ll be interested in and in many cases it works.
This is a form of curation: a set of selection criteria which helps the curator (Google in this case) to provide the data the user is looking for in a way that they can readily consume it.
How can you make use of curation?
In business development we are always looking for ways that we can differentiate ourselves and add value to our external stakeholders such as clients, prospects and intermediaries. Well curation can do this for you and here’s how: –
- During interactions with your stakeholder find out what they are really interested in. Business and personal interests both count but remember people can have an interest in lots of areas but are really interested in only a few and you need to find out what these are.
- Note them down on your CRM system. If you’ve gone to the trouble of finding out their interests you don’t want to forget them again.
- Periodically search the Internet for anything that matches the interests you discovered in stage 1.
- Present what you’ve found to your stakeholder through social media, email, the telephone or face to face if you can.
- Have an outlet for this which can be picked up by more people such as a blog or a newsletter.
Bingo! You have just fed a need that your stakeholder has which means that you will have just added some conversion juice to their enrichment and differentiation buckets inching you further ahead of your competitors.
What are the dangers attached to curation?
There are only 3 real dangers and here they are: –
- You fail to accurately identify your stakeholder’s real interests so you feed them things that don’t hit the spot for them and you actually become a bit of a nuisance. Make sure you have got a handle on their true interests.
- You invest all this time in the wrong stakeholders. There are a group of people out there who are just takers. They are happy to keep taking from you but as soon as you want something in return the shutters come down and the excuses come out to play. Two choices here: monitor how your relationship is developing and if you feel like it isn’t moving forward ask your stakeholder what they think. Second option is to ask for something and see what happens. Eliminate the takers!
- You get the frequency of enrichment wrong; bombard them with useful stuff but the volume actually causes them to switch off from you. Once every month or two is fine but if you detect a coolness in your stakeholder back off for a while.
Where can you find useful information from?
You might consider Google as the main tool in your curating activities but I would make it the last resort and here’s why: there are simply tons of great ideas, tools and techniques out there but if they aren’t written by Seth Godin or aren’t published on the BBC website then they’ll probably appear on page 11 of your Google search. You need to to do better than that.
These are our favourite curation tools although there are undoubtedly others: –
- Twitter: use of stored searches and hash tags plus following the right (but not necessarily famous) thought leaders is the quickest way to identify some useful but not overly well know material.
- TED: is just great. It’s like YouTube for grown-ups and is packed with really interesting stuff. A lot of people don’t really engage with video so you should make sure your stakeholder is not one of them before you send them a TED link. This is my favourite by Simon Sinek.
- YouTube: yes its enormous but the search engines are pretty good (owned by Google so they would be I suppose) and whatever you want to find will be on there somewhere.
- Slideshare.net: is a great website where people have deposited PowerPoint presentations on a range of subjects (try this one) as well as video clips. It is one of the great undiscovered treasures of the Internet in my humble opinion.
- Books: for thousands of years people have been recording the fruit of their life-experiences on paper (or sometimes papyrus) and making them available for us to consume in a few hours. Try Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and see what I mean!
- Blogs: subscribe to the right blogs (like this one of course!) and organise your Outlook so that it automatically directs new posts into the appropriate directory without hitting your inbox and you’re in business. If you find you have followed the wrong blog unsubscribe immediately.
- People: I’ve saved the best until last. Over the years I have managed to gather around me a number of interesting and free thinking people who enrich me every time I meet them. They always seem to have new ideas, tools and techniques that they can’t wait to share and I can’t wait to learn about. If you do nothing else I would do the same if I were you.
How can I move my curation into overdrive?
Going back to the start: people don’t have lots of spare time so sending them a link to a TED video or a copy of a great new book you’ve just read may not have the desired effect because they just don’t have the time to do anything about it.
The hyper-curator will summarise and repackage. Read a book, summarise the key ideas in a one-page mind map or a few bullet points and send the book and the summary to your stakeholder. Meet somebody and summarise a new TED video you’ve watched or blog post you have read. Write a blog which is mainly bullet points and can be read in less than 3 minutes and send through the link. Summarise and repackage.
So there you have it: want to stand out from your competitors and become a valuable person in somebody’s life? Become a hyper-curator.