Prime the Pump: A Message from the late Walter Brennan

 Walter Brennan cannot sing. It's doubtful he ever could. Of this you can be sure. He's passed on to the great beyond where cowboys and actors go. But he did try to sing in his own gravelly voice way, "You've got to prime the pump. you must have faith and believe. you've got to give of yourself, before you are ready to receive. There is a lesson here for those of us who are genealogy educators.

The more you give, according to many professional speakers, the more you will receive. Here are some ideas on giving you might explore.

  • Give away praise. When you are in front of the group, you need to recognize and praise the learners lavishly and sincerely. Years ago I worked door to door in a little town. I was challenged to find something to praise sincerley whenever the resident came to the door. A lot of people were praised for having such vigilent dogs! But the message is, find something praiseworthy. It makes people feel good.
  • Give away credit. Face it, there are not a lot of original ideas for teaching genealogy, or original insights. So when we teach, give credit for the sources of inspiration. I have contact with genealogy lecturers and writers across the continent. I often ask their advice, and shamelessly drop their names as the source of "my" insights and inspiration as I teach. Likewise I mention their books, their articles, their lectures. Someone suggested that factor makes me seem more like an expert. Hope that's true!
  • Give away promotional material. Good quality promotional material like pens, note pads, booklets, may keep your name before your audience for a long time. I often give discount coupons for an on-line course. One speaker I heard about presents a gift or two to the program planner and local host president as part of his seminar. Another gives a gift to the host society.
  • Give away your products. What are your products? Do you have a book, or a booklet, give one way. Do you do research then give away 30 minute consultations? Do you teach? Give away an introductory lesson on a topic. I am involved in on-line genealogy classes and give away a gift certificate for an online class.
  • Give away ideas. A free newsletter to those who attend your lectutres, classes is a good way to share. Sometimes you can use your website and post articles people can download. Articles of interest to your clients, student whether written by you or by others can be a good way to raise your profile. Of course, if others do the articles, you need permission to use, and to allow them to be down loaded. Look at Connie Lenzen's site for an example of a posted article. This blog is one of my idea give aways.

Start priming the pump. This does not mean you give away everything. You need to earn a living but like old Walter sang(?) , you've got to have faith and believe. Give of yourself.

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