Connect Your Way to a Successful Book Launch with Ryan Paugh

Anna David
19 min readApr 22, 2023

Do the words “networking for your book launch” make you want to curl up in a small ball and rock back and forth?

This week’s guest will assuage your anxieties…or at least get you to uncurl.

Ryan Paugh isn’t just a thought leader, but also a community-building, relationship-forging, entrepreneur-enabling force to be reckoned with. And he’s a self-proclaimed introvert!

The co-author of the book Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships That Matter, Ryan shares in this episode how any author, introvert or extrovert, can use basic skills for connection in order to have a successful book launch.

TRANSCRIPT:

Anna: So I have the, the expert on super connecting here with me. And we know he’s amazing at it because he’s been so patient with me having to rerecord this episode. And so, so that’s part of being a super connector, I imagine. Right, Ryan?

Ryan: Patience is a virtue. Sure.

Anna: It is.

Ryan: I think it’s also a great quality to have if you’re building community or building connection. So yeah, yeah, I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to hang out with you again.

Anna: I love it. I love it. So you wrote this amazing book, Super Connector. So amazing that I recommended it on KTVU TV.

Ryan: Thank you for that by the way. That was fun.

Anna: Tell me… It was, I love the book. And so tell me what is being a super connector? And how can an author utilize or become a super connector?

Ryan: Yeah, I think being a super connector is something that anyone in any trade can obtain. And really, it’s it’s just about utilizing and leveraging all of the communications tools that exists, in our modern social media era, to build bridges, to make connections, to put people first. I can tell you that everything in my career has come because of an opportunity that someone else had laid out in front of me. And those opportunities didn’t just present themselves on their own. They manifested due to what I like to call habitual generosity. Finding moments in your everyday to give back and support other people and help them be successful knowing that, in turn over time, that generosity is going to build dividends that are going to help you reap benefits in your own life. But it’s not transactional. It’s about giving, understanding that organically you’re going to get so much more in return from that action than just trying to sell, sell, sell.

Anna: So tell me how, you know, an author working on a book hears this and says, okay, well, but who do I do that to?

Ryan: Well, well, anyone. People like Anna, as an example, who have an audience, who have a podcast, who have reach. Find ways to support her and others like her who have influence within your field or within your area of study. Find people that are looking to tell stories about the types of things you wrote about in your book. And through those relationships and through that generosity, find ways to exchange and support one another that will be helpful to them, but also helpful for you. In this specific situation, becoming a guest on someone’s podcast, being able to reach someone’s network through a newsletter, being able to reach someone’s audience on Instagram, being able to speak physically in a room with an audience that someone has in a location nearby. You know, those relationships don’t just come because you reached out and made the request typically. Sometimes they do. But more often than not, we’re all being battered with information and requests and people that are trying to just perform basic transactions. And we’ve been programmed by ourselves to ignore those people and pay attention to those who come to the table with a genuine opportunity, a genuine sense of generosity and, and they want to create something that’s mutual, mutually beneficial. Oftentimes, that happens through leading with a give versus an ask. So I think that’s really what it’s all about with, with you know, launching a book, I think. When Scott and I launched our book, many years ago now, we had built up generosity with so many people over the years that, I don’t want to say it was easy, but it was definitely easier to fill our schedules with opportunities to get in front of audiences when we finally had something of ours that we wanted to share.

Anna: Yeah, that was very well said. So, so would a way to start maybe doing a review of a podcast that you like and knowing unless it’s, you know, Tim Ferriss, that podcast host will probably see the review and it logs in their brain. Is that, is that a way to start? Is commenting on an Instagram post another way to start? And [inaudible] listeners like some things to do?

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, it could be something simple. It doesn’t have to be like this, you know, big sort of exchange the sort of like, you know, monumentous moments that you know. I don’t know, that has like some major impact. You know, it’s the little things that people appreciate. Just reaching out and saying thank you to someone. Sharing a podcast, sharing something you liked about that podcast. Making a connection between an individual and someone else that you think they should know. Helping someone else out with their book launch. I mean, if you are an author, I would say you probably, probably already know other people like you in similar positions that are looking to launch a book, you know. Join their newsletter lists and be on their book squad and help them launch with success by, you know, performing some simple actions, tweets, book reviews, etc. Those people will remember those things when it’s time for you to go out and um, and sell your book. It’s funny, you mentioned Tim Ferriss though, because Tim Ferriss almost wrote about Super Connector. It didn’t happen because he has layers and layers of people in between him and his newsletter, and him and his blog, and so on. But the reason that opportunity came about is Scott and I invited him to a dinner. We were in Utah skiing, for one of our Young Entrepreneur retreats. And, you know, just by happenstance, Tim Ferriss was staying in the condo next door. Just by himself for the weekend. Getting prepared to launch something new and exciting as Tim does. And we knew that we had a couple extra seats at the table for, you know, our entrepreneur group that night. So we invited him to come down to a lodge and join us. And that’s how we built a relationship just through this, you know, couple hours we spent together, inviting him out to spend time with a group of like-minded individuals versus, you know, sitting at home doing whatever he would have done by himself. And that allowed us to open the door several years later to see if there was an opportunity to, to do something with him. Most people won’t even get a return response from someone of that level. But because we, you know, had done that just small exchange years prior, we had a chance. And those chances, you know, sometimes lead to really big opportunities.

Anna: I love that. That’s amazing. And next book, he probably…

Ryan: I hope he listens to this and feels really bad that he didn’t actually write about us. So then next book, he will [laughs].

Anna: Tim is, yeah, Tim is a huge fan of mine. He’s never told me that.

Ryan: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Anna: But I feel it, you know what I mean? Um, you know, something that, that you just said that I think is important is, is joining launch squads. Now, it’s interesting because I told you, you know, when we spoke before, I wasn’t, I mean, right now I’m in heavy duty prep mode for this book that’s coming out. And, you know, I put out a request for launch squad members. Now, this is a good tip, actually, which I’m going to inadvertently reveal. I didn’t really get a great response, I got a, if you take the percentage of my list versus how many people said, sure, sure, I’ll join. I’m a tiny 2%. So then I had a thought, and I go, you know what people really respond, they’re inundated with help me, support me. I sent out an email and I said, my book’s in trouble. Will you help me? And it was kind of humbling because it’s not really true. But double the, oh, my God, yes, I’m here for you. Um, which I don’t know really what that has to do with, with supporting people. But I will say, I know every, even though there’s hundreds of people on that launch squad, I know who all of them are because they are the people who show up every time. And it means a lot.

Ryan: Well, people like, I, I’m a firm believer that people genuinely like to help other people with real problems. I think leading with, hey, can you promote me and like put out a tweet to do X, Y and Z. It’s not going to generate a response for a lot of people because it doesn’t seem urgent. And we’re all super busy. But, you know, that vulnerability that so many of us are afraid to, to lead with, can sometimes be a stalling out. Right? Like, you know, being able to, you know, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of truth, I’m sure to the fact that your book was in trouble because you were feeling a sense of anxiety that you didn’t have a strong community behind you. But you did. It’s just, you know, that message wasn’t your sincere self, and then you send something out that was the sincere Anna that I know. And you know, look, everything turned itself around. More people need to be willing to lead with, you know, a weakness or something that levels the playing field. I think that’s a really important factor in everything that we do.

Anna: So true, it’s so, I know it’s very hard for me personally and I know it’s hard for other people. So, so let’s say you’re out there supporting people, you’re reviewing their podcasts, you’re applying to their newsletters, you’re joining their launch squads, you’re sharing their podcasts. And I know, I mean, it almost feels wrong to ask this because the whole point is to just be of service. But when is an appropriate time to then ask for support?

Ryan: Um, this is the answer that you don’t want. And this is the answer that the listeners don’t want to hear. But it’s the truth, as far as I know things to be, you just know.

Anna: Yep.

Ryan: And, and as a, as a super connector, I think one of the skills you need to build is that level of emotional intelligence of just knowing. If that makes sense.

Anna: It does.

Ryan: It doesn’t come easy. There’s some great, there’s some great books out there, some great podcasts around how to build emotional intelligence in and out of the workplace. But I think that’s sort of the key to figuring it out.

Anna: Now, I think a lot of writers consider themselves and feel like they’re introverts. And so they say, well, I can’t do this. So you are a self-described introvert, what do you have to say to that?

Ryan: Introverts are some of the best super connectors and some of the best community builders on the planet, because they know how to step back and just be a part of the room and be a part of the community without having to lead the community. They’re not the people that spend time leading the conversation or at the center of the room. They’re, they tend to be sort of on the, the parameters of that nucleus, so to speak. And they listen, they listen better than those that are talking. And they find ways to connect the dots because they’re, you know, really paying attention. And they’re on a different wavelength, which allows them to find opportunities that extroverts who are working so hard to be as active as they can and the conversation just, just aren’t listening to.

Anna: Mm hmm. And so when you had your book coming out, you guys had built up a lot of, I mean, social capital. Is that an inappropriate word?

Ryan: It’s a little jargony. But yeah, it works.

Anna: Yeah. And so how did you guys prepare for your book launch?

Ryan: I, Scott and I, I think had the benefit of being, you know, on the front lines and building community for 10 plus years. So we had a lot of connections, and a lot of individuals who, as part of our day job at community dot co (www.community.co), we had been helping and supporting through our associations, right. We’ve built a business around giving back and helping entrepreneurs and busy executives connect and level up in their career. So that helped us. If we didn’t have that, I would have spent a lot of time, you know, contributing to communities and associations like the ones we create. I would be joining Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, different associations, where I could meet and support individuals within my field of interest to build up that, you know, social capital if you will, right. And, you know, just look for those spaces, online and offline, where organic collisions take place that allow you to give back and support others and, you know, build those relationships that are going to help you succeed in whatever you have coming up down the road. You know, as an author, I think you should be planning that out at least a year in advance. If not, if not like for the better part of your career leading up to a book launch. You know, I think no matter what you’re doing, you should be building that social capital up, you know, in every single, you know, instance of your day. As you’re, you know, just going about the, you know, everyday execution of your, your business and your work. You got to find those little morsels in the day to create that habit of bringing generosity back into the ecosystem that you play in.

Anna: Would you recommend even setting aside time in your calendar? Like, okay, I’m going to put this in my calendar?

Ryan: Yeah, whatever works. For some people it comes more natural. And, you know, I know a lot of people who, you know, have, have a tough time focusing on, like the actual work work because they, once they get into the generous mode of giving, they just, it can consume your day. And that’s great until you have to get back to, you know, actually doing things. I mean, you do have to treat it like another task and you have to be a really good task manager to be successful. Good time management is the key to, you know, building anything great. And that includes making sure that you’re managing your time to, to give and to, and to, you know, create that habitual generosity in your life.

Anna: Yeah, and something to mention with this is, you know, all studies show that giving is, you know, the one of the greatest keys to happiness. So you’re not only getting out of yourself and being of service, it’s, it’s, it’s an esteem-building activity. Because you realize you have a lot more power than you may realize to really support anybody.

Ryan: Yeah, it feels good. And that’s, you know, that’s also the nice thing about it is, you know, giving back feels good, and it adds, you know, sort of this, like, natural energy back into the work that you’re doing. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a book launch, you know. I know, we’re, I know, we’re talking to authors here, but it’s, this isn’t, this isn’t stuff that is, you know, just about preparing for your book launch. This is stuff that’s all about preparing to be successful in building anything, you know. In work, and outside of work is building that sense of community. And, you know, making sure that you are, you know, always making time to support others and what they’re interested in, you know, through everything that you do, as many times as you can.

Anna: So, what if an author says, I want to build a community? What would, what would your recommendation be, maybe that’s online, maybe that’s offline, they just go for look for, like…

Ryan: I think it’s important to, you know, do your research and know what’s already out there. You know, certainly like, the, you know, sort of technology and monetary barriers of creating a community on a platform, they don’t really exist too much anymore. I mean, you can go create a free Facebook group tomorrow and build a community. But, you know, who’s already doing that? Do you, do you have to? Or can you be a part of a community that someone else has created? You know, Young Entrepreneur Council is one of the first communities that me and Scott created together. I didn’t technically found that organization, you know. Scott started it and we sort of connected through me being a member and it was reborn. As you know, the association that it is today with myself as a co-founder, and everything that we’ve done since is kind of, you know, just snowballed from, from us bringing our collective superpowers to the table. So I didn’t start that from scratch, necessarily. I just helped take it to another phase. You know, you’re, you’re one of our, you know, publishing and book author, member leaders with Fast Company Innovation Board. And I think that, you know, that’s another way to build community within a community that didn’t already exist, you know. You’re helping bring that skill set and those superpowers to the table. And, you know, creating your own micro community within an ecosystem that already exists. There’s a lot of ways to do it.

Anna: Yeah. And I think that’s an interesting point. So yes, Ryan and I met because I’m a Fast Company Board member and you very generously, well, it’s interesting, because it’s mutually beneficial. You reached out and you said, hey, we’ve got this book publishing group. I think you’d be a good leader for it. And, you know, you very clearly explained what was required. Not a lot, let’s be honest. And, you know and, and you were able to create these communities within Fast Company, where there’s just subgroups of people interested. And I will say, I made what I would consider friends in that community and it’s not like we’re interacting a lot. But you know, and I would love to sort of talk about how, you know, how you’ve done that at magazines and, and maybe if people are interested in joining like, what is the Fast Company Board? Can we talk about that?

Ryan: Yeah, so Fast Company Executive Board. I misspoke earlier. Not Innovation Board, Executive Board is a community of executives that are leading innovation initiatives in various industries. And a lot of them are very tech oriented. But it ranges from media, marketing, creative, etc., all the things that you would, you know, imagine that Fast Company stands for if you pick up the magazine and read it ever, you know. It’s that ethos. And we built a strong community of executives and entrepreneurs behind that. And the idea is that we provide access to visibility, connections and growth. A lot of the same connections and growth opportunities you would get from membership associations that you may already be a part of. But we’re mostly digital, you know, we’re about real time connection. Where a lot of associations are really focused on that forum or that conference that you attend several times per year. We try to be kind of like your bat signal. And oh, my God, I need help with my, my book launch. I’m going to get into that, you know, Fast Company Executive Board app, and I’m going to talk to Anna and the book publishers’ group. You know, we want to be available for busy executives and entrepreneurs when their problems are happening, which for most of us is like right now. And they can’t wait till the next conference. So we want to be kind of like, you know, that support system in your pocket that you can access and get support from anytime you need. And then of course, because we are, you know, a partner and, and a piece of the Fast Company ecosystem, we’re able to help members publish thought leadership in their respective trades. So we have an in-house editorial team that helps our members write tips and advice-based content from their practitioner lens that gets published on fast company dot com (www.fastcompany.com) and can help them get in front of the Fast Company readership. And also create content on a fairly reputable platform that also, you know, gives our members the opportunity to showcase their affiliation, which, which is meaningful and significant for, for business owners and executives that are looking to build authority in their space.

Anna: Yeah, so if people listening want to join their, their, you know, fellow thought leaders or entrepreneurs, I will say, it wasn’t easy. It’s not like it’s something that’s promoted widely. You know, there is clearly a, you know, a measure of exclusivity to it. It’s not sort of just like, yay, I want to sign up, where do I link? How do people…

Ryan: Yeah, so, I would invite anyone who’s curious to go to board dot fast company dot com (board.fastcompany.com), read about the benefits. We’ve got a cool little innovators quiz on there. If you want to kind of just, you know, see some of the content and some of the things that we do as an organization. And then if you think that you might qualify and you think that you might want to talk to our team, click on the Do I Qualify button. Read through some of the qualifications and fill out a form. You know, like Anna said, is, this is not like a click and buy kind of operation, you know, this is an exclusive group. And, you know, we, we literally talk to, at least once before they join, every single member on the phone, you know. There’s, there’s a review process, there’s a conversation that you’ll have with our selection committee, and if, you know, the shoe fits, we’ll, you know, invite individuals to join us as members and start becoming a part of the community, contributing and supporting others on the platform, and also working with our team to build up some really fantastic thought leadership content.

Anna: Mm hmm. And you’re allowed to post, I think, as often as once a month?

Ryan: It could be as often as, as that, you know, or it depends sometimes on the quality of content. And, you know, we are, you know, pretty strict about, you know, what we publish and how we publish. You’ll go through at least two rounds of editing. So the typical member will publish every four to six weeks if they’re looking to publish that often. But, you know, most members will publish a couple times a year. A couple of strategic pieces that really help them with positioning and, and the narrative that they’re trying to get across and trying to build around their company goals. And then they’ll renew again, because, you know, having that ability to work with a team that helps you craft such interesting content is a value add and something that, you know, very few business owners just have in their back pocket at the go.

Anna: Mm hmm. So I, so one thing I was going to ask you about the super connecting idea. What about, and because this is something that I’ve recently ran into, people you’re really like pouring into and supporting and when it comes time to support you, they aren’t so there for you. How do you know? You know, it’s always illuminating to me when I’m doing something and asking for support. Oftentimes the most successful busy people write back right away. How can I help? What can I do? And people maybe who I’ve done a lot of favors for, you know, can’t really be bothered to, to do anything. How do you know?

Ryan: Yeah, I don’t think you necessarily know till you know, right. You know, there’s always going to be a couple people that don’t show up. And it’s disappointing. I hope that, you know, most people who put in genuine effort to give back towards others are going to get a lot more yesses than nos. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be excited, or you shouldn’t be disappointed by the nos. Like, that’s just natural reaction, but it’s going to happen. And, and I think there, the important thing to remember is, you don’t know what’s going on in the personal lives of every individual that you are, you know, exchanging with and supporting. You know, like, the benefit of the doubt is important. Just because someone didn’t show up doesn’t mean, they might, you know, never show up, right. I think it’s just a game of patience. To go full circle to the beginning of our podcast here together, you have to have patience to be a super connector and you have to understand that not everyone is going to always show up. But again, it’s not, it’s not about always reaping, you know, all of the gains. It’s about giving back to others and knowing that, you know, you will get dividends. You’re not going to produce dividends on every, you know, single person that you’ve, you know, done a favor for, but you’re gonna get a lot of return on that generosity. A lot more than the folks that are just kind of, you know, using the social platforms to, you know, create more, you know, noise than, than actual, like frequency and actual value. So, you know, just, just focus on the positive and try not to, you know, spend too much time worrying about the few folks that, that didn’t show up. It’s okay to be disappointed for a minute, but you know, then you shake it off, and you move on.

Anna: Yeah, yeah. I mean, and my mentor Joe Polish will say, be someone people want to pick up the phone for. Become someone people want to help. That, I mean, that’s really, I think the best message is you want help, become someone people want to help and people want to help those who, who help. Um, so, final words, Ryan. If people want to find you, find out more about Super Connector or the Fast Company Board, Young Entrepreneurs Council.

Ryan: Yeah, so, you know, my company’s community dot co (www.community.co). We build and manage communities, as well as we build platforms to support professional associations and, and people that already have communities to build up their programming, to build new retention mechanisms to support their business. Fast Company Executive Board is a great community, board dot fast company dot com (board.fastcompany.com). We run many other industry associations. If you want to learn more about them, you can, you know, reach out. I’m on Twitter at Ryan Paugh (@ryanpaugh). Ryan Paugh dot com (www.ryanpaugh.com) is my website, the book Super Connector, super connector book dot com (www.superconnectorbook.com). And I think that’s it. I mean, you know, if you’re any bit a super connector, you’ll be able to find me online really quickly, because I’m really easy to find.

Anna: Great. Well, Ryan, thank you so, so much. You guys, thanks for listening, and I’ll talk to you next week.

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Anna David

NY Times bestselling author of 8 books, publisher, TV/TED talker. Want to find out more about my company? https://www.legacylaunchpadpub.com/what-we-do