Are Books the New Business Card?

As the game gets harder, the expectations become higher.

I didn’t want to imagine myself walking into the workforce with the expectation of eventually earning my master’s degree or even a doctorate. I’m not saying I’m closing the doors to those potential opportunities in the future entirely, but completing my undergraduate education left me with a feeling many young people encounter when they are truly emancipated from the rules and guidelines of parents and teachers—the desire to jump into work and grow as a person (and grow your wallet in the process).

Writing a book lets your colleagues know you are worthy of respect, and respect is the basis of all relationships, both personal and professional.

Still, like all things in life, there are some pseudo-workplace cultural expectations that put a fork in the road for you, forcing you to take the time to work on something that isn’t necessarily said out loud but is ever-present in the attitudes of your employers and colleagues: writing a book.

Writing a book is similar to writing a thesis paper, except the whole world will look at it, and any mistakes you make will harm you more than a bad grade. In fact, they’ll affect your reputation. That said, this also opens up other opportunities for you that you might not have received otherwise.

Employers Will Notice Your Commitment

I once read an article in college that told everyone to train for a marathon and complete it. That itself made me curious, but what shocked me was that the author continued and told the reader to put it on their resume under “personal accomplishments.” Is completing a marathon worth putting on your resume?

It’s a major personal achievement, but the marathon itself wasn’t the important detail. What the author wanted to emphasize is that employers want to see drive, commitment, and follow-through with potential and current employees. Taking time to do something that significant shows you are someone who can embrace challenges. The marathon example could easily be replaced with continuous volunteer service, completing your next degree, or writing a book.

Specifically, I find that writing non-fiction is perhaps a superior option to most alternatives because it shows (assuming your book has to do with the field you are working in) that you are taking time to dive deeper into the topics and challenges many of your colleagues aren’t.

Colleagues Will See You’re Willing to Go the Extra Mile

Imagine you and a peer who is essentially a professional copy of yourself are applying for the same job. You might even have both run marathons together for all we know, except what makes you stand out is the book you wrote discussing the very topics relevant to understanding how to tackle your potential new role should you get the job.

While many thousands of Americans might run marathons in a given year, fewer people will take the time to work on a project that will forever have their name attached to it. Writing a book about a topic within your area of expertise or the field you wish to develop a career in demands and commands authority in that area. A book doesn’t just say you can write well; a book also means you have a mastery of the topics that help pay your bills. A book says that while your colleagues left work at the office, you were taking the time to advance your knowledge, expand your network, and embark on a challenge many begin yet rarely finish.

Writing and publishing a book lets your colleagues know you are worthy of respect, and respect is the basis of all relationships, both personal and professional.

You Become a Brand That Is Entirely Focused on You

You might call this the “celebrity factor,” but professionals will always remind you that you are your own brand. If you speak at a conference about ending world hunger, you will most likely be there because of the reputation of your employer or the organization you represent.

For example, Oprah doesn’t need a long introduction. People know her without having a personal relationship with her. They know her because of her public appearances and reputation in the realms of journalism, entertainment, and humanitarianism. Sad to say, you aren’t Oprah, and you’re most likely never going to be Oprah, but you can be the first and very best “you” that you can be.

Radio appearances, journal op-eds, and speaking at conferences is something authors can do more regularly than their peers without a book.

The ability to earn “brand” recognition based on your own name alone is something a book can almost guarantee, especially by networking and marketing yourself wisely.

Radio appearances, journal op-eds, and speaking at conferences is something authors can do more regularly than their peers without a book. You may not be Oprah, but when people within your field hear your name, they’ll think of you before they think of your employer, where you went to school, or any other tertiary details.

You Can Influence the Conversations in Your Field for the Better

Don Draper from the hit TV series Mad Men said it best: “If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” This is, at its core, a leadership principle that can be applied to other facets of life. For our purposes, a book is almost certainly the best way to change that conversation.

Do you think blue is a better color than purple? A book means you really believe it. Are people in the non-profit sector not paying attention to a very important blind spot that could harm an organization? A book means you care enough to try to save it.

Books change the world in ways very few things can, so with great intention comes great printability (or maybe Spider-Man put it differently)—or for every Milton Friedman, there is a Karl Marx.

Doors Will Open

The first thing that comes to my mind each time I publish a book is, “What now?”

The elusive “what now” is sometimes the answer itself because after the marketing campaign ends and the buzz dies down, your book is now in the wilderness, and maybe it will bring you back an opportunity in a week, or maybe a month, or perhaps even a few years.

Be bold, write about your passions, and be open to all opportunities that come with being a published writer in your own right.

Two years after my first book was published, I still get invited to speak at events and write on topics that otherwise wouldn’t have been realistic opportunities if I hadn’t first published. This is in many ways a door you open and can never close again. However, with great risk comes great reward, and authors command a level of respect and authority that is unique to them and can help open roads that would otherwise never be available.

Be bold, write about your passions, and be open to all opportunities that come with being a published writer in your own right.

Further Reading

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