A surefire way to jump to the top of your field…

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If, of course, you dare to jump to the top of your field!

What does that mean? To a grizzled old empire builder, it means that you will write the article most read each year, you will annually speak at your group’s convention, you’ll offer breakout sessions regularly, you’ll be sent new products to try and test, and you will quickly become one of the group’s top (or at least better known) leaders.

It also means that “your group” is a niche group, though it might work in broader fields too.

The surefire way? Become the person who gives the “state-of-the-art” summary every year. (To be even more effective, if not clairvoyant, you would also provide the vision of where the group will be a year from now, or two years, or even five years.)

Yet to do that you must know where the group was 50 years ago, 25, 10, five, and just two years ago. Your purpose, then, is to provide historical objectivity so your colleagues have a renewed, fact-based perspective about the niche on a regular basis, against which they can measure where they are, were, and might be. And how and why they have changed.

Is this important? It is on many levels.

For newcomers, it provides an insight (and direction) into the heart of your field or topic. A set of guidelines they can use as their own baselines and from which they can create future paths of distinction.

For veterans, a click-off list of changes in which they have participated, or seen happening. A notch stick of pride, to value their own change and growth.

For all in the field it provides a commonly understood view against which to measure and plan their actions, individually and collectively.

But how can you just do this, particularly if you are new to the field or are unknown? What are your credentials? Why would others believe you now, and ask for more later?

I mentioned daring. That’s how: you just dare to do it, and you do it. You spend the needed months doing every inch of research, finding facts and earlier summaries, interviewing the founders and innovators and visionary doers, reading all of the articles and books, all with the purpose of writing a “state-of-the-art” article to be shared on X date (this year, and updated on that date in the years to come).

Where will it be read by all in your niche? I’d write a query letter to the editor of the association magazine or newsletter (the key publication) about providing this piece to them at that time. A clear, humble request for permission to write that article, weaving in some of the information you have gathered, plus a rough outline or description of what the article would contain. Don’t ask for an annual article. Either do that after the article appears and is a roaring success, or six months later so it appears at a 12-month interval.

In the meantime, you have information for perhaps another eight articles, focusing on specific elements of change or trends in the future, each supported or expanded upon by other leaders in the field, mostly through interviews and examples.

If you add to the historical theme an article about “new products of the year,” you could pass judgment on or tell about, in depth, the most significant new tools, guides, ideas, or whatever affecting your subject during the past 12 months. That could be expanded to a presentation of how-to or step-by-step explanations comprising a breakout session at the convention (or conferences). And that too could be done every year, with you receiving an example or copy of the new products during that year for evaluation. (You might raffle them off, for a good cause, to the attendees at the gathering.

The purposes here are two-fold: (1) to bring valuable new information and perspective annually to your colleagues in the niche, and (2) to make you a new “star” in your field, the purveyor of that eagerly-awaited and indispensable new information.

In turn, that core information and you as the expert about it could be the core of your new writing, speaking, and product-creating empire.

(See more about empire building at my free monthly newsletter.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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