Regardless if you’ve been building a platform for years or if you’re just starting out – there are five important lessons about “how” to work that every platform builder should learn.
These lessons are not complex, but they do require some discipline – and take years to master, so get started now! The best authors, speakers, and subject-matter experts understand these lessons, and engage in these practices on a daily basis.
1. Learn to work anywhere
For years, I was the type of person that thought I could only be effective when I was working in my “space.” I believed I needed to be at my desk, in my chair, and have everything “just right” in order to be productive. I now know that was a lie – another form of the Resistance – that kept me from being productive.
When you’re building your platform – especially if you’re just getting started or transitioning from another career – you’ve got to squeeze every ounce of opportunity from of the day, so choosing to be productive in places you’d normally shun becomes commonplace.
While most of us fortunate enough to work on our platforms full-time prefer our “space” to work in – we’re more than willing to adapt and adjust as needed. Over the years, I’ve written posts in hotels, airports, and restaurants; cranked away for 15 minutes in between meetings at a client’s office; and sat in parking lots jotting down notes for a product.
Effective platform builders know that we have to learn to work from anywhere because the message(s) we have to share out won’t wait for us to get back to our desks to write about them.
2. Learn to focus
Forcing yourself to focus on the task at hand can be one of the biggest challenges for any platform builder (really anyone for that matter).
So when you allocate time to work on content – don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Quickly checking your email, or taking a peek at social media when you need a moment’s relief from the grind of writing can sound the death knell for your focus.
Instead, if you need a break – get up and walk around, or go for a stroll around the block, make a cup of coffee, water the plants – do anything other than intentionally introduce distraction into the precious practice of crafting your content.
Learning to maintain your focus is often much harder than it sounds, but keeping your attention in check is critical if you have a message to share with the world.
3. Learn to find your community
For those of us called to build a platform, we need to become comfortable with the fact that we simply are not like everyone else. We’re not better, more special, or more valuable than others – just different. The work we do and the way we do it is vastly different from most of the people around us.
For years I felt like I didn’t belong and that I was somehow alone because I looked largely to my geographic region to find my community. It took me years to “find my people” but when I did, everything changed for me. I immersed myself in mastermind groups and started going to conferences around the country. I found an entire community of like-minded thinkers and people who understood what I was trying to do and helped encourage me along the journey.
It is said that we become more like who we surround ourselves with. If that’s the case, we need to be surrounding ourselves with people who understand what it takes to build an effective platforms.
Some of my favorite places to connect with other platform builders:
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4. Learn to live life before an “Audience of One”
Author Os Guinness said,
I live before the Audience of One. Before others I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose.
As a person of faith, I love the freedom that comes from this spiritual practice of a life lived before an “Audience of One.” Regardless of your faith perspective, this concept can also apply to platform builders.
There will be times when those around us won’t (and can’t) understand why we don’t have time to meet with them, or why we’ve had to “opt-out” of certain business opportunities or personal relationships (even ones we enjoy.)
But when you are laser-focused on your calling, there will be times when you’ve got to make sacrifices – and most don’t like that they are the one on the altar. This is not a hall-pass for living a mis-aligned life or becoming a workaholic – quite the opposite, really – but there are only so many hours in the day and you’ve got to focus on what you’re called to do first and foremost.
5. Learn to ship it.
As a recovering perfectionist, this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I struggle with wanting each and every thing I put out to be the best it can be. It’s this very issue that kept me from getting started for so many years. I would often find myself paralyzed by the need for everything to be perfect before I launched it.
The concept of a “minimum viable product” is essential when building your platform because we can become so stymied by making things perfect that they never get it out there.
What is so much more important that making the product great is actually shipping it. Striving to make a product perfect will only paralyze you and ensure you’ll never get leave home base. The most successful platform builders start with a “minimum viable product” and tweak it over time as they listen to their audience and learn what it is they can do to make the product better.
Don’t become paralyzed by the lie that things need to be perfect before you ship them. Set a deadline, do your best work, and then improve on what you’ve put out there as the reviews come in. Not everything will be perfect, but that’s OK.
Question: What lessons have you learned building your platform over the years? How have you applied these lessons?