Although the connection between writing and personal branding success is obvious, the connection between reading and personal branding success is often less clear.
Nevertheless, reading plays an important role in your ability to write.
The more you read, and the more critically you read, the better you’ll able to write the articles, blog posts, books, email, and reports necessary for career success, attracting a following, and building a strong personal brand.
Mega-author Stephen King said it best: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
- Introduces new ideas. Reading exposes you to new ideas, ideas that you might never encounter in years of face-to-face conversations with coworkers and friends. Your day-to-day conversations often revolve exclusively around strategies and tactics for addressing short-term goals, but reading can provide fresh approaches to achieving your branding and career goals. This is especially true if you look for articles, blog posts, and books, from the thought leaders in your field.
- Provides examples to follow. By reading critically, analyzing the titles, sentences, and paragraphs of articles, blog posts, and books helps you appreciate the importance of clarity and conciseness. You’ll get a better understanding of how the rules of grammar (like the importance of active verbs versus passive verbs) aren’t just abstractions, but they make a huge difference in the writer’s ability to communicate their ideas and inspire action.
- Helps you structure your ideas. Taking the time to analyze a book’s table of contents and the way authors ideas are introduced in each chapter offers valuable lessons in organizing ideas for your articles, blog posts, or books. The more you analyze the writing of others, the better you’ll be at presenting complex ideas as a series of smaller topics that build upon each other.
- Challenges you to be analytical. Reading critically, taking the time to dissect what you’re reading in order to understand the author’s perspective and how they developed their arguments provides an opportunity to develop your analytical skills.
- Inspires you to develop your skills. The more analytically and critically you read, the more you’ll appreciate the difference between good and great writing. You’ll become more appreciative of the qualities that contribute to the best writing, and you’ll be inspired to incorporate these ideas in your own writing.
- Opens the door to other learning adventures. In addition to helping you improve your writing skills, reading can also help you improve your marketing skills, or ability to sell what you’ve written. By visiting the blogs and websites of authors whose books you’ve read, you can gain insights into techniques you can use to introduce your ideas in more than one format. You can also see how ideas, once developed, can be recycled and reused in different formats as authors return to familiar topics.
- Networking possibilities. Commenting on an author’s blog is an excellent way, or communicating with them using the contact forms found on many websites, is an excellent way to pave the way for future conversations or closer communications. Many authors welcome reader comments on their books, and bloggers welcome comments and suggestions.
Tips for making the most of your reading
Here are a few tips to help you purposely use reading as a writing and personal branding tool:
- Track your reading. Create a list of the blogs you read and the books you’ve read. A simple alphabetical list, or a mind map, can help you recall key ideas and lessons. Consider joining an online reading group like Goodreads where you can set reading goals, track the books you’ve read, and meet others who share your reading tastes.
- Build reading into your schedule. Reading isn’t just something you do in bed before falling asleep. Setting as little as 15-30 minutes a day for purposefully reading can pave the way for learning and inspiration.
- Create a reading plan. In addition to building reading time into your schedule, be purposeful in what you read. Identify the books you want to read, and when you hope to have read them. Remember: you don’t have to read every word of every book, especially if you take advantage of the free online resources to help you choose the most important books, (see below).
- Read both inside and outside of your field. Don’t just read books that directly relate to your career or business success. Take the time to explore new fields. Often, the best ideas come from making connections with ideas you encounter in books far outside of your normal reading habits.
- Make the most of free online resources. You can learn a lot from reading the free PDF samples found on many author’s websites as well as the Kindle ebook samples available from Amazon.com. You can also learn a lot by clicking on the LOOK INSIDE! icon found next to the book cover photographs of many books sold on Amazon.com.
Has reading helped you improve your writing?
Has your ability to write and promote your personal brand been helped by of the books you’ve read? Share your experiences, and the titles of the books that helped you, as comments below. Just as reading is an important part of writing, sharing plays a big role in personal branding success.