June 24, 2019

Book Review: Michael Hyatt’s “PLATFORM: How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World”

Book Review:  Platform:  How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 2012, 261 pp., $24.99.

Michael Hyatt’s Platform is must reading for anyone who has something to say or to sell. Hyatt is Chairman of Thomas Nelson, a Nashville-based publisher. He is the former president and CEO of that organization as well. In addition, he is a prolific author, speaker, blogger, distance runner and churchgoer. He is also the father of five daughters. His span of activities is so extensive, I often suspect that he must have figured out that cloning thing.

Hyatt’s focus here, however, is not productivity but rather harnessing various media, including but not limited to social networking, to build, project and reinforce one’s personal and professional brand. Those in business for themselves will find this chock full of useful tips, ideas and resources. For those who wonder how to utilize tools such as Twitter or Facebook for business purposes, Hyatt’s book is extremely useful.

I began reading a library copy of Platform.  As I got deeper into the book, however, I had crimped so many pages and had seen so much useful content that I decided to order my own personal copy through Amazon.com.

So why should insurance, claims and risk professionals be interested in Michael Hyatt’s book, platform?   First, if you are in the financial sector, you serve as an ambassador for your company. Whenever you are on stage, either physically or virtually through social media, you reflect upon your company. You have an opportunity to project a positive brand and image with regard to your company. Even if you were a function is not in the marketing arena, you are communications and your presence can add to or detract from your companies brand.

As an insurance or risk professional, even if you are currently gainfully employed, you may need to build and project your own brand. Nowadays, employment arrangements are often temporary.

Diamonds are forever, but few jobs are, especially in the financial services and insurance sector where most of us reside.  So, there is utility in developing your own professional brand as a thought leader in a particular subject matter area, separate and apart from what you build at your respective companies. After all, some day you may not be employed any longer by that company.

In that case, you will need to parlay your expertise and credentials into some other form of gainful employment or self-employment. Therefore, whether you work for a company or for yourself, it is a wise “pack your parachute” gesture to start developing and building your platform. The platform can be through blogs, podcasts, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or any number of other virtual avenues.

The era of lifetime employment with the gold watch at retirement is gone.  Whether you are a risk manager, an insurance broker or a claims adjuster, as a corporate employee you are at the whim of corporate reorganizations, vagaries and vicissitudes. The time to build your personal/professional brand is like the old adage, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”  If you only begin after you get the pink slip, it’s better than nothing but you are late to the game.

Part of Hyatt’s message is that nowadays, it is not enough to have a good service, product or idea. You need to develop a platform, a group or tribe of followers who recognize you as a thought leader, as somebody who has something worthwhile and valuable to say. Again, the time to start building that platform is BEFORE the launch date for your new product, service, book, etc.

Hyatt divides platform into five major sections:

Part One: Start with Wow

Part Two: Prepare to Launch

Part Three: Build Your Home Base

Part Four: Expand your Reach

Part Five: Engage your Tribe.

One caveat:  before doing any platform-building, take the temperature of your employer as respects its policy and tolerance of social media participation. Some companies are very encouraging toward employees using social media in responsible ways. Increasingly, companies have corporate guidelines for social media use that apply to employees. You may or may not agree with these policies, but if you accept a paycheck from the company you should abide by the rules.

Other companies are still stuck in the Dark Ages and distrustful of social media involvement. Some firms view, for example, establishing your own website as highly threatening. Best to find out before you embark upon this platform-building, because if your company is opposed to it or is hyper about regulating it, then the effort might be more hassle than it is worth. Find out first!

Platform is not a theoretical, pie in the sky exposition but rather a practical, hands-on approach with lots of lists and bullet-points. The appendices also provide useful resources.  Hyatt sprinkles his Chapters with specific stories and experiences which underscore his theme.

I highly recommend that you get, read and apply Michael Hyatt’s Platform in order to build yours!  View it as sound risk management for your career.

 

In what ways have might you be able to develop a platform to share your expertise?  Share your comments, thoughts and experience here!

 

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