Silence Really Is Golden

Moment of SilenceThere’s a lot of chatter these days.

People are constantly bombarded with communications from dozens of sources, and it doesn’t end when you leave the office.

More than ever, we are persistently on the job.

It’s exhausting. For me personally, I delete hundreds of emails unread every day, because I simply don’t have the time to spend on idle chatter. I’m a big fan of Jeff Walker’s “Sideways salesletter” concept where marketing emails are short, to the point, and quite the opposite of the lengthy manifestos some marketers think are necessary.

If someone sends me emails on a regular basis that say nothing – or perhaps even worse, reiterate what someone else has said – I actually begin to delete them without even opening them. Eventually, I just relegate them to the junk pile. I’d love to read everything I receive, but then I’d get nothing else done so I budget my time and move through my email with ruthless efficiency. I read a lot every day, but I delete a lot, without reading, too.

There are some really good reasons to keep talking. Your words make people remember you, and moreover, they make people remember you as a person with something to say.

So make sure you have something to say. Your thoughts should be original – or at least, be original takes on existing subjects or ideas. There is a big trend now for bloggers and self-appointed experts to “hire out” their thoughts, paying other people to write their blogs and specialized commentary.

This is not a new phenomenon. The plain truth is that politicians and corporate types have used scriptwriters and ghostwriters for years. These people, well paid to deliver original content and smart insight, brought new levels of credibility to their employers by providing authoritative and well-paced new information for their audiences.

Today, though, you can go to any number of Web sites and hire writers who will deliver words, words, words for veritable peanuts.

And you do get what you pay for.

You give an assignment, and many of these people scope out similar subjects on the Internet, find some articles, skim them from the Internet, and cut and paste them into a new document. They then put this plagiarized information through a scrubber, which wipes out any digital trace of its Internet origin.

So what do you get? A jumbled version of someone else’s thoughts. Sure, it may sound fine on the surface, but what is it saying?

This is your brand. You have worked for ages to define this brand, to hone it, to publicize it. And then you go and gunk it up with nonsense that somebody else didn’t even think of in the first place – and that may have something to do with your subject, but nothing to do with your brand.

One of the first things that those who have built excellent personal brands master is the science of editing. An overblown brand is like a room with too much furniture. There is no focal point, so audiences get distracted. A distracted audience loses interest, and moves on to the Next Big Thing.

There is a clever lesson about the attraction of silence from Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence. The wealthy van der Luydens, the patriarch and matriarch of New York society, do not go out among the rest of their peers on a regular basis. They are models of propriety and keep in close contact with their peers, but their presence and their pronouncements on matters of importance in the social circle are so rare as to make them positively earth-shattering.

The same was true with that all-powerful brand of the latter part of the late 20th century, E.F. Hutton. When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. Equate that to the idea that E.F. Hutton’s brokers never spoke unless it was accurate, meaningful, and profound – and as a result, people looked forward to these proclamations.

Always Coca Cola: Some people find Coke to be a tasty beverage on its own or paired with a variety of foods. I like it from the fountain but less so from a can or bottle. Talk about a simple brand though. Red can. One cola. It is what it is. Love it or hate it. It’ll be there tomorrow for those who want it.

That should be your brand too.

Just step up and make it so.

Share what you love.

Succinct and smart is better, always, than flabby and meaningless. Don’t take the focus off your brand and your product – shut up a while and say what you mean, and serve those who respond and ask for more.

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