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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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How to build your profile by writing a book


In this two-part article, Heather Townsend shares her methods of how to use a book to propel your career forward.

Five years before I turned my back on corporate life, I learned that the best way to build a career as an independent and freelance trainer was to have a book to your name. In my defence, that was the only reason I started writing ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’. I never intended to become a writer. I wanted to have a book to my name to differentiate myself from all the other trainers out there. With my third book, ‘The Go-To Expert’ having just been published, I seem to have got bitten by the writing bug good and proper. 

However, having a book (or three) to your name is no guarantee that your training business will take off as a result. It takes hard work and persistence to truly reap the rewards of becoming a self-published or published author. Here are the methods I have used to grow my business around my three books.

Write the best book you can

With the growth of the self-publishing industry, it seems that every trainer is either thinking about, has written or is writing a book. However, the worst thing you can do is just publish any old book. You need to publish the best book you can, which will help build your credibility and authority. A poorly produced, edited or poor-looking book will be more detrimental to your credibility than not having a book at all. If you do go down the self-published route, make sure it looks like a real book. If it has any hint of DIY or ‘home brew’ about it, you may be severely denting any impact you make with your book. With so much information fighting for our attentions, your book will need to earn its self-space by offering true value for the potential reader or client.

Market your book before you start writing it

Unless you are planning for your book to just be a book-sized business card, then you need to market it long before you publish it. So many trainers fall into the trap of starting to market their book after it has been published. Your book needs to be an integrated part of your marketing plan, rather than a project on the side. You will pour your heart and soul into writing your book, so make sure you invest in the marketing to make sure it brings you the success you deserve. 

Build your authority by writing a book

I tend to allow a whole year to write, market and produce a book. This may sound like a long time, but, I probably churn out business books quicker than most business writers I know. The point I am trying to make here is that writing your book will take your time, emotion, energy and focus. The last thing you want to do is write the wrong book. You need to write a book that emphasises your credibility and strengthens the pull of your personal brand. You don’t want to do what I did and spend three years carefully crafting a reputation as the expert for referral generation for professional services, only to dilute and damage that reputation by writing a book on career progression and talent management.

Label yourself as ‘The writer of…’

Even with the growth of the self-publishing industry, it is still a big deal to have written a book. There are so many trainers who never quite get around to writing their book. The very act of writing a book gets you to deepen your expertise on a particular subject. As a consequence, more credibility gets attached to someone who is ‘author of…’ rather than just ‘leadership expert’ or ‘executive coach’. As soon as you have committed to writing your book, start to label yourself in your online profiles and biographies as ‘Author of….’

Interview the people and companies you would like as clients for your book

One of my biggest regrets with writing ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ was I didn’t interview enough managing partners for the book. The two managing partners I did interview for the book both invited me to tender for large pieces of work! Both managing partners bought bulk copies of the book as well. Most people I know, even the very busy, important people love the idea of being interviewed for a book. Very few people have ever turned me down for an interview for any of my books. You’ve just got to be brave and ask for 30 mins of their time. Just the act of interviewing some pretty big influencers has expanded my network significantly. 

In part two of this article, Heather shares six more tips on how to use your book to build your client list.

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the Go-To-Expert. She is the author of ‘The Go-To Expert’ and the award-winning and best seller, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’. Click here to receive a weekly email to help you become the Go-To Expert and enjoy the luxury of clients coming to you

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Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

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