Many people have asked me how I stay so present online with consistent, themed content. I’m often the first name they see on LinkedIn, they say, and they’re amazed that I can stay at the top of my company and peers on profile views.
I’d like to dive into this a bit — a guide to being me.
A theme of my writing is that people who use Excel regularly are not good at networking.
So to improve as an analyst, it’s not enough just to get at statistics or programming.
Everyone needs to cultivate an image and define their why. A great way to do this is to grow a content-based personal brand online. Spreadsheet-types usually don’t think this stuff is important. But in the changing labor market, everyone needs to be an expert at marketing their personal business: “Me, Inc.”
I started blogging a year or two ago and it has been the biggest blessing in my career. I’ve written ebooks, launched a course, and networked with the best.
So how to get started? A few tips.
The 50% Rule
Weinberg and Mares in Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth share a great rubric in how to launch a business.
They state that 50% of effort should go to building the product and 50% to gaining traction for it. This means finding customers, getting feedback, and establishing demand for the product.
I have shifted this rule into building “Me, Inc.” and try to spend 50% of my time consuming content and 50% producing it.
This way I have just enough “food for thought” for me to make good stuff, with enough time to still produce content, the building block of my business.
A lot of people tell me they want to start a blog but don’t know what to read. If you really stick to this rule, you won’t have a problem. Just write about what you just read. From there, your ideas will spread and shift into directions you would have never considered.
One time-honored way to create value is curation. You are doing good for two parties here — helping the creator share his work, and helping your readers get valuable information.
There are plenty of content curation tools, but my favorite is Flipboard. I love how Flipboard turns online articles into magazine-look paginated stories — scrolling down a story drives me crazy!
The great part about Flipboard is following your own topics. I follow magazines on topics like Microsoft Excel, business analytics, economics, and so forth. This is a way for me to come across new stories in a visually appealing medium that I can pass along to readers.
Tweet while you read
If you had told me a few years ago I’d prefer digital reading, I’d have called security on you. I was legendary in my preference for paper — absolutely refusing an online textbook when they first came out (I’m not that old, sort of.).
But now I am almost exclusively a digital reader. Why? My shift to becoming a content producer, and not just consumer.
Reading on my Kindle makes it so much easier to catalog and share notes and quotes. My favorite feature is the ability to tweet quotes from the book.
This allows me to accomplish both curation and consumption of content — not bad! The short character constraint also makes me a sharper reader — I must find quotes that distill the points in the shortest length possible. This way, I avoid being that guy who highlights the entire page — pointless, right?
Don’t go to networking events
I wrote about this before, but if you want to build your brand around content, networking events seriously don’t help.
By the time you drive there, get to the event, and leave, your whole night is gone. If you work full time, this likely means that you will get nothing done for your personal brand that day.
I wrote about this further in the article, but I believe you should go to networking events only until you have defined your why. After that, really focus on building your product.
Play the violin
When Peter Drucker was asked how to become a better manager, he replied: “Learn how to play the violin.”
This is pretty accurate for me — I actually do play the violin, in a local volunteer orchestra. Sure, it takes Monday night and practice sessions away from working on my blog. But it’s a way to grow my creativity and meet new people. Unlike a networking event, I’m actually doing something at the orchestra.
And playing the violin gives me novel insights and ideas into business analytics and Microsoft Excel. Live I’ve said before, I will never be the best spreadsheet modeler on earth. But, I can take my unique combination of interests in music, writing, economics, and Excel, and make something remarkable.
How do you do you online?
I would love your tips or insights — what makes you tick online? Am I missing the best tools? (Please enlighten me on Evernote — I must not be using it right.) Do you want to set me straight on networking events? Let me know!