Monday, May 19, 2008

Linking In Earnest

I watched an amazing video last night - “Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on YouTube.

This vid has been online a bit (has over 2.3 million views) so you’ve probably know about this guy but in case you don’t, Randy Pausch is a Professor from Carnegie Mellon who is dying of pancreatic cancer. He’s blogging and recording his final days as a way to leave a legacy for his very young children and draw awareness to this deadly disease.

The lecture on the video is part of an old academic tradition known as “The Last Lecture”. Professors are asked to pass on to their students all their worldly wisdom as if the next day would be their last. In an ironic twist, Professor Pausch was asked to do the lecture the same time he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

As I watched and listened to this remarkable 76 minute video, four things he recommended stood out for me:

1. “… be good at something, it makes you valuable”

2. “How do you get people to help you? By telling the truth. Being earnest. I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every day because hip is short-term.”

3. (Shows slide of Jackie Robinson) “Don’t complain, just work harder. That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him. You can spend it complaining or playing the game hard. The latter is likely to be more effective.

4. "Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me, 'What's your secret?' I said, 'it’s pretty simple: call me any Friday night in my office at ten o'clock and I'll tell you."
Professor Pausch wants us to take what he’s learned and use it to enrich our personal and professional lives. I see no better tribute than to apply his sage advice to my link building business and life in general:

1. Be good, it makes you invaluable. Attracting links is about setting yourself apart and/or creating a niche. Spend time developing your business and marketing your reputation rather than coming up with silly linking schemes.

2. Be earnest. Cutesy link bait may attract a handful of links, but content in demand is there for the long haul. The number one online activity after email is product search. Write content that answers your customer’s questions and provides value.

3. Work harder. Don't succumb to the mediocrity of your competitors. Look to offline promotions for inspiration and ways to set you apart. Don’t use linking tactics that can jeopardize your business.

4. Work hard. You can’t build quality links in a day. Or a week, or even a month. It takes time and energy to create the right content and/or find and approach sites that will do you the most good. Develop your content, your image and your reputation and you’ll become the authority site everyone wants links from.

If you’d like to see the PowerPoint slides Dr. Pausch’s used in the lecture, click here.

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