Looking to Grow Your Personal Brand? Start Here
Early in the summer of 2014, I felt a burning desire to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. Despite having no experience writing and no confidence in my ability to write, I decided to write a book. No, not a blog or a letter to the editor of the local newspaper—an entire book. About fifteen years earlier, as I entered the sales profession with no confidence in my ability to sell, I had been deeply affected by the narrative styles of Og Mandino (The Greatest Salesman in the World), George Clason (The Richest Man in Babylon), and John Milton Fogg (The Greatest Networker in the World). As I gained my footing in the sales profession, I decided that someday I myself would write a narrative book. The summer of 2014 is when I decided to follow through on that.
As I gained my footing in the sales profession, I decided that someday I myself would write a narrative book.
In my research for the project, I read a lot about platform building. Most articles by influencers implied that writing a book without already having an established author platform—a link with potential buyers of the book—was a waste of time. Other than my professional network on LinkedIn and my personal network on Facebook (like everyone these days), I had no platform. So I decided to ignore the influencers’ advice. I felt a calling to write the book and build the platform simultaneously. I had a very general idea of what I wanted the book to be about—cultivating a sales mind-set.
I hired a coach to walk me through the process. The first exercise that he gave me was to write out my life experiences and the value I had obtained from each of them. I don’t know whether he intended for the exercise to be critical to the book, but in hindsight it certainly was. Over the next seven days, I wrote twenty-two pages of childhood, teenage, and adult memories that stacked up to make me who I am, and then I reflected on each of the memories. I realized that sitting right in front of me was my platform content: stories and ideas about building strong relationships and growing a business through sales practiced in a highly authentic way.
I realized that sitting right in front of me was my platform content: stories and ideas about building strong relationships and growing a business through sales practiced in a highly authentic way.
Immediately I created a website and started a weekly email newsletter. I leveraged LinkedIn’s publishing platform for sharing my articles with others. At the end of each article, I suggested that people could visit my website to sign up for my Sunday morning newsletter. Next Sunday will be my 104th newsletter—that’s two years’ worth—in which I have shared personal stories of falling down and getting back up in personal life and business. Of the previous 103 newsletters, 20 were written for fewer than 100 people and 45 of them were written for fewer than 1,000 people. At about the one-year mark, a hockey-stick curve developed. In other words, the newsletter really took off! But if I had not gotten started and written newsletters for the first few subscribers, I would still have no platform. Most Sundays I spend about three to five hours replying to subscribers who feel compelled to reply to my newsletter. I realized that sitting right in front of me was my platform content: stories and ideas about building strong relationships and growing a business through sales practiced in a highly authentic way. I love interacting with these people and helping them in some small way as they pursue their own life paths. Recently I started the It's Time to Sell Facebook community, and the level of engagement has been great there as well.
Most Sundays I spend about three to five hours replying to subscribers who feel compelled to reply to my newsletter.
In an effort to build my platform, I have experimented with many things. But one thing that has been core from the very beginning is my email newsletter. If you are considering putting your story out there for others to benefit from, I can’t suggest enough that you start with an email newsletter.
What has worked for you in an effort to put your story out in the world and help others? I welcome you to contribute to the discussion below. Also, if you have any questions on platform building or sales by all means reach out and connect.
ABOUT CHRIS SPURVEY
I write books and help entrepreneurs and sales professionals feel and act more confident as they sell their product or service. I am the best-selling author of It's Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on sales and personal branding.
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