I was recently in touch with a few former colleagues who I worked with about 10 years ago. They are still working for the same company and we were reminiscing about some of the challenges we experienced in delivering our respective deliverables (I was the communications manager then) for this particular company – much has changed, but also a lot remains the same. Coming out of those conversations and thinking back on the years I spent at this company, it dawned on me just how much things have progressed in one, seemingly very short decade. The tools that were available to me then, as a communications professional, have changed dramatically. It is also fair to say that this is, to a large extent, a reflection of the advancements society has made in general when it comes to technology. But chatting with my former colleagues made me realise how, as individuals and companies (especially the not so big ones), we can sometimes be slow to not only adopt but also incorporate new ways of thinking and doing brought about by technological advancements.
I say all of this because I have also been reading a lot about how we can strategically integrate some of these new technologies, like social media and other online platforms, as professionals and business owners. And I want to share some of the insights that I have gleaned from reading some books written on this subject. The interesting thing is that these were all written by different people, with varying backgrounds and expertise with each based on a different premise and, therefore, not necessarily aimed at the same audience. There is, however, a common thread across all of them – that is, as professionals and business owners, we need to take a much more proactive approach in building our brands using online tools, for the express purpose of building personal influence and company reputation, all of which will enable us individuals who are professionals to multiply income streams and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. The books that I am referring to are
- Entrepreneurial You by Dorie Clark
- The overall purpose of this particular book is to answer the question: how can you build a long-term, sustainable business that rewards you emotionally, intellectually and financially. Her point of departure is primarily from the view of a professional, but the principles are applicable to small business owners and entrepreneurs as well. She talks about how you can use what you have ie your skills, qualifications and experience as a professional to expand it’s usefulness to you, not just monetarily but also emotionally and intellectually as well. I find this idea particularly resonant; often taking on the responsibilities that come with moving up the corporate ladder you find yourself doing a lot less of the core functions of your profession and more of managing people and other resources, reporting and strategising. And that may not be as fulfilling when it comes to doing work that you’re passionate about. Applying what is said is this book opens up the possibilities of finding other ways that can help to ‘feed your fix’ and still be able to earn from that, outside of your job.
- The rise of the Youpreneur by Chris Ducker
- The overall message of this book is aimed specifically at entrepreneurs. But, of course, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking to make that transition from corporate life, you can also start putting some of these into practice. Chris, the author, has had a lot of experience starting and running different businesses and what he’s come to realise over the years is that there has been a shift in how you position yourself as the owner in relation to your business. Back in the day, the way to do things was to stay behind the scenes and put the product/service front and centre as the face and voice of your organisation. Nowadays it is the person behind that organisation that needs to be in the forefront; you need to position that individual as the brand with whom clients and customers build the relationship. A big advantage of approaching things in this way is that should the business owner choose to transition to offering some other product or service, they don’t have to start from scratch in creating and building relationships with customers because, where does the attachment lie? With the individual.
- Platform: get noticed in a noisy world by Michael Hyatt.
- This was the first of these three books that I read back in 2017; it speaks broadly to individuals and can be useful at whatever stage you are as a professional or a business owner. His jump off point is not so much directly about making money but about building the connections that will provide you with opportunities to do that in the long run. He says that you need to have a platform from which you can share your valuable message. You need the platform so that your message can be heard far and wide and that platform, in today’s world, is created from people ie your contacts, connections and followers. What you know is secondary to who you know.
Getting into the meat of each book, each respective author details what you would need to do and the tools you will need in order to create multiple income streams as a professional, build a business brand that is centred around your unique personality or create a network of connections that extends far beyond your physical presence (note: the tools and their uses are very similar). Another commonality that stands out for me is the overriding message of changing your outlook in order to expand your experience as a business owner and/or professional. Also, the relative ease with which you can make this happen, at least, more so than say even 10 years ago.
In closing, here are a few of the things I have taken away from these books:
- Your reach is not limited by your qualifications or lack thereof, your job or profession or the company you’re currently with. Not any more.
- We’re living in an age where information is readily accessible and shareable. Let’s stop operating as though the technology that allows that to be possible exists in a parallel universe. Learning to understand it and how we can use it strategically and even for the greater good is a far more forward thinking approach. Imagine if you chose to walk everywhere, instead of driving, because you trusted your own two legs and they have always served you well. That would severely limit how far you can go and how fast you can get there, don’t you think?