Influence is as important for individuals as it is for established businesses, but when you operate as an entrepreneur or small business owner, you often have to build that influence from scratch. Whether you want to use your influence to land more clients, create compelling digital content, give moving speeches, or something else, having a clear sense of mission and brand is key to establishing yourself as a thought leader.
If you’re looking to increase your influence in your industry, and use that influence as a path to business growth through additional revenue streams, here are a few great books from notable experts to add to your reading list.
Start With Why and Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
The most compelling CEOs and thought leaders have a clear sense of purpose, and are driven by something deeper than sales. In order to understand the power of knowing your purpose — and to help discover your own driving force — check out these two books from Simon Sinek. “Start With Why,” and it’s coordinated TEDTalk, has long been a business world favorite, and the more recent follow up, “Find Your Why,” is sure to have a similar impact.
The brands and messages we love aren’t just interesting, they’re fascinating. Sally Hogshead’s “Fascinate” is a guide to tweaking your messaging and branding to ensure it resonates deeply with your target audience and consumers. Her companion web content and guides create a step-by-step process for presenting yourself to the world in a way that leaves a lasting and powerful impression.
Entrepreneurial You and Stand Out by Dorie Clark
Once you understand your driving force, you have to figure out how to transform it in a compelling public-facing message, and ensure that it’s differentiated in the marketplace. Dorie Clark’s “Stand Out” is a great guide to understanding your unique differentiators, and her more recent “Entrepreneurial You” is a guide to monetizing that message and diversifying your revenue streams based on your expertise.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
You can’t be a leader without followers. This time-tested book from marketing great Seth Godin walks through the importance of activating an audience around your ideas, and the process by which you can identify and connect with them. This is a must-read for anyone hoping to rally a group to transmit a message and create a movement.
TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson
Knowing your purpose is one thing, but you need to be able to effectively communicate that message to others in order to be truly influential. Whether you plan to deliver your message from the famous Red Dot on the TED stage or not, this book will provide important speaking lessons for any would-be influencer with a story to tell.
Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, you are. From emails and blog posts to thank you notes and tweets, we’re composing written messages all the time. Make sure your writing is as compelling as your message, no matter what form it takes, with this engaging and entertaining read from Ann Handley, the founder of MarketingProfs.
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World By Michael Hyatt
Simply putting your message out in the world is no longer enough; consumers have more options than ever before when it comes to the content they consume and the messages they receive. To break through, your online presence needs to be “Platform” provides high-level information as well as detailed and actionable tips and tactics for ensuring your message is received and remembered in the cluttered social environment we’re all living in.
Melanie Deziel is an award-winning branded content consultant and speaker who travels the world educating marketing, sales, and editorial teams on branded content best practices. Deziel started The Overlap League native ad newsletter, and is on the board of the Native Advertising Institute. She is the former director of creative strategy for Time Inc. and was the first editor of branded content at The New York Times, where she wrote the sponsored content pieces that won the OMMA Award for Best Native Advertising Execution in 2014 and 2015, including the acclaimed “Women Inmates” piece for Netflix. Follow her @mdeziel.