I read. I read every single day. And I write, but, equally important is my ability and propensity to read. It allows me to gain insight from someone without having to be in that person’s shoes or even talk to them.
This morning, I got an e-mail from the highest higher up at my school. He was sharing an e-mail that he had read about my field of development and it came from a very well-known fundraiser. The e-mail was great but what was kind of cool is the fact that I was able to respond that I look to this guru’s books, which sit on my office bookshelf, as a frequent point of reference. Additionally, I attended one of his two-day seminars in Chicago last Spring.
Or, more relevant for me as a branding consultant, is the fact that I recently met with a client who is looking to start a financial services firm. He and I had our first consultation and, throughout it, I was mentioning names of top firms, referencing their logos, and speaking on their stories. I had taken the time out to read up on those who are successful in his industry so I had a better handle on what he needed. You cannot say you know something about a field that you’re not in and think, just because you know color schemes or fonts, that you know what a client needs. You need to develop a foundation. That foundation comes from reading.
You never know when what you’re reading will add credibility to your brand. My suggestion is read as much as you can on the topics that influence your industry or the industry you serve and, eventually, it will pay off.
Oh, and while I’m pushing reading, read for fun sometimes too. I’m saying this as much for myself as I am for you all. There is some great fiction out there (or even nonfiction on interesting topics). The thing is, so frequently, we’re caught up reading for work that we forget all the great stories that are being told.
Make professional development a priority.