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The Architecture of Audience: How to keep in touch and keep creating 

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Zvi Band, co-founder and CEO of Contactually

Zvi Band,
co-founder and CEO of Contactually

Writing is traditionally a solitary act, but as the publishing world moves forward, writers are expected to take on more responsibility for marketing their work. When the creative job is done, a new phase of work begins in which the writer must develop and maintain a growing following of readers. This is a daunting prospect, especially for those who prefer solitude.

Being a published author doesn’t end with a book available for sale online – it begins with it! If you don’t have an audience, then no one will know who you are. An audience begins with family and friends, and with the right tools it can expand to reach your colleagues, acquaintances, Twitter followers, Facebook contacts, and finally to strangers who are loyal to your work. To keep an audience, it’s no longer enough to create something great. Readers expect writers to engage. Social media is supposed to make this easy, but how can one juggle all these platforms and still have time to write?

Zvi Band, co-founder and CEO of Contactually, saw a need that spanned all professions, including writers: the need to build relationships and help them thrive in a world that is managed more and more via a little flat screen.

Contactually is an unreplaceable tool for writers to create, connect and actively stay in touch with their readers.

Zvi Band has joined us on Mash Blog to enlighten us on the work ethic required to overcome challenges and continue moving towards accomplishment and beyond.

Who is Zvi Band?

Band has a congenital case of curiosity. Through unrelenting hard work, he has harnessed that predisposition into a career as a developer and entrepreneur, moving his own projects forward and contributing to the greater startup community as well. Before Contactually, he founded DC Tech Meetup and ProudlyMadeInDC. He is a member of Mindshare, mentors 1776 and Acceleprise, and is in high demand as an advisor for other beginning developers. The Washingtonian has twice honoured him as a Tech Titan.

Kate Kearns: From your bio alone it’s clear that Contactually is born from a culmination of the many hats you’ve worn. Tell us a bit about your life before Contactually.

Zvi Band: I’ve always been a developer – before I was coding, I was the kid taking apart my parents’ computer. Out of college, I first did a stint of government consulting. As great a company as it was, it was clear to me on the first day that I was not meant to work on something I didn’t believe in, or be in a big company.  I then became CTO of an enterprise software startup that was acquired back in 2009. I freelanced for a few years, and Contactually was born out of that experience.

Kate: Many titles stand out in your bio: “entrepreneur,” “mentor,” “founder,” “developer,” and “strategist”, to name a few. The “values” section of Contactually and an article on your own website boasts a passion to “move fast and break things.” Business and tech prowess aside, what role does creativity – in a sense, artistry – play in your work?

Zvi: Creativity is the only way that anyone new can stand out in a big market. Creativity is essential. It’s not the ability to find a creative solution to a problem that’s so important, but more the willingness to break from what’s already working and reject the status quo.

Kate: What gap did you aspire to fill with Contactually? From what impulse does it stem, and what motivated you to get started?

Zvi: Relationships have always been important to my career. While I might be an introvert at heart, the ability to build and maintain relationships has been an incredible competitive advantage. But when it became mission critical for my business to remain engaged with contacts, I kept falling short. I saw that existing software solutions weren’t fit for our needs, so I set out to build one.

Kate: What unexpected challenges have you faced in development, and how did you address them? Do you have a “motto” to which you return when you’re up against a problem?

Zvi: It’s hard to come up with a finite number of challenges we’ve faced – they’re innumerable. The core values on our website have always helped us power through hard times, but more importantly:

I’ve instilled a belief in myself and in the team that THE most important thing to do is just to show up each day, and keep executing.

That’s what separates us from 90% of the other people out there.

Kate: Writers are an isolated bunch. Part of the job description is to sit alone and still for long periods of time, creating in a vacuum. A bit of introversion is encouraged. How does Contactually help them thrive?

Zvi: Regardless of your primary task, relationships still play an important role. Certain tasks, like regular follow-up, rapport building, etc. are unnatural habits. Contactually acts as your personal coach, breaking down the overall goals you want to achieve into simple, straightforward daily tasks. Instead of constantly fearing who you need to engage with, who’s slipping through the cracks, or what to say, Contactually will prompt you with the exact people to talk to, what you last spoke about, and suggested email templates.

Kate: If you were to pass on one piece of advice, one “key to success” to someone beginning a new project, what would it be?

Zvi: Execution. Relentless, unhindered, constant, sometimes even blind, execution. That’s what separates you from everyone else who never tries, who gives everything half-efforts. Succeed, fail, learn, push, it doesn’t matter – as long as you are pushing forward, everything seems to work out.

Thank you, Zvi, for lending us your time and insight. Software development and writing share many essential traits: imagination, dedication to improving a craft, vision, and the ability to, as Band puts it, “execute.” Full-time writers call this by many names, but my favourite is the “ass in chair” method of writing every day.

Whatever you call the method, Band proves that:

In today’s world full of brilliant minds, talent and skill get you nowhere if you lack the focus and drive to stand out and spread your creations.

 Sign up for Contactually, to actively stay in touch with your readers!

 

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Kate has a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She enjoys all the equipment on the writing playground, evidenced by her many simultaneous projects. She is a freelance writer and editor, author of the poetry collection How to Love an Introvert, and is working on a piece of non-fiction while dabbling in children’s books and flash fiction. She’s the Platform Manager at Mash Stories and the owner of Black Squirrel Workshop LLC.

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