Personal branding is no fad — instead, it’s a necessity for everyone from college students to CEOs. Whether you’re building a career by climbing the corporate ladder or pouring your energy into setting up a start-up, you need to create and maintain a brand that resonates with your personality, goals, audience and future.
Most professionals use social media to accomplish the goal of establishing, maintaining and leveraging their personal brands. However, as more and more people jump into personal branding, social media platforms are increasingly crowded. Lengths of posts are also limited, meaning that you have to push your content out in small pieces.
While your personal brand is obviously about you — or it wouldn’t be personal — at it’s heart, your personal brand must speak to your target audience. That’s the only way you can achieve your career or entrepreneurial goals.
To succeed in those goals, you want to be seen in your industry niche as a thought leader — someone who is advancing the conversation about important issues. One of the best ways to elevate your personal brand into a thought leadership platform is through writing a book.
What should you write about? It depends on what your goals are. If you’re an entrepreneur, you might want to write about the unmet needs that led you to start your business, what the future holds in that niche and the innovative ways you and others are solving those problems. If you’re a mid-career professional, you could write about the challenges that you see coming for your niche and the best ways to deal with those. Writing a book puts you on the career and entrepreneurial fast track in the following ways:
- Develops confidence: When you write and publish a book, you gain an immeasurable amount of confidence in yourself. As some who is writing a book right now — for myself, not someone else — I can tell you that it is a real labor of love. The deeper I get into the book, the more confidence I gain in myself, my ideas and my processes. It’s incredibly empowering to give yourself permission to write a book. Writing a book expands your idea of what’s possible. And when the book is published, that confidence will be contagious. Your audience will sense your confidence in yourself and your ideas and will respond to it.
- Invests in your future: Your biggest asset is your human capital — in other words, the work that you will engage in over the course of your life. If that isn’t worth investing in by writing a book, I don’t know what is. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. It’s never too early or too late. But by not writing a book now, you’re postponing the benefits that you’ll receive from writing your book.
- Demonstrates your value proposition: A book puts your critical thinking, problem solving and other unique traits on display for your audience to see. Using credible evidence, stories, personal experience and analogies, you can shine a light on your topic and leave your audience with take-aways to think about. At the very least, writing a book demonstrates to your audience that you’re serious about yourself and where you see yourself in your career or your start-up journey.
- Creates a marketing tool: A published book that includes credible information with your name on is a fabulous marketing tool by definition. You can put it on your LinkedIn, feature it on your website and refer to it when you’re networking, meeting with prospects and/or looking for a job. You can sell it or give it away. When colleagues, business partners, potential employers and potential clients google you, they will find your book. You can also take it apart and give chapters or sections away to potential clients, partners or employers.
- Positions you as an expert: Over the course of your career, you’ve seen a lot and developed some opinions about your industry and your niche. You may not have had much of a chance to air those opinions. A book provides you with that platform. Of course, that means you need to maximize that — you can’t just throw out half-baked opinions if you want to be taken seriously, especially if you want to be viewed as a thought leader. When you take your time, do your research and write a book that is based on the elements that I mentioned above, including credible evidence, stories and personal experience, your book will make a contribution and advance the conversations in your industry. All those factors will position you as an expert, making you a more valuable employee, colleague or entrepreneur.
- Organizes your processes: There’s nothing like writing a book to really get you to think about what you do, why you do and how you do it. As I write my book, not only am I quantifying my processes, I’m also coming up with more ideas to make those processes better. I really have to think through what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and how it helps advance working with my clients. Because that is what it is all about — effectiveness and efficiency in working with your coworkers, employers, clients, partners or customers. Organizing your process can also help you scale your business, if that’s something that you are interested in doing.
- Builds a pool of content: Once you’ve written a book, you’ve got a pool of content that you can draw on to promote your personal brand and thought leadership platform. Instead of scrambling for an idea for a post, just go to your book, cut a section out, edit it a bit and post it. Mention your book in connection with the post (excerpted from XYZ book) and that will drive more traffic to your website. There are endless possibilities for repurposing book content — blog posts, ebooks, video, podcasts and infographics.
Writing and publishing a book is easier than it’s ever been with platforms such as Amazon’s Create Space. You can also use packagers such as Book Baby or Lulu. It’s not free, but costs are coming down. There are ways to approach the book writing process that help keep a lid on costs, such as starting with an ebook with a simple PDF design that you offer for download on your website.
The bottom line is that publishing a book keeps you relevant in an era where news moves at the speed of light. If you want to stay relevant and part of the conversation in your field, writing a book can make a difference.
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