I’ve always bristled at the idea of a platform because the word invokes the idea of a person set-apart, on a stage — a sage with an audience of listeners, separated, even artificially. A platform is something that you earn or something that is gifted to you. You have a job that gives you the platform, or you’re invited to speak on someone else’s stage. A platform just IS; when you have one, you know it. If you don’t have one, you can’t manufacture it. If you have one, you must use it carefully and intentionally.

What if you don’t have a platform? Can you build it?

Forget a Platform – Build a Community

Authors, or aspiring authors, come to me and my company with the request that we help them build a platform, because their publisher requires a platform of a certain size or their agent told them they’ll need a platform before submitting book proposals. They are defining platform as connections, and they want to make as many as possible, quickly, so they can reach that bigger goal. So they have a platform. So they’ll get a book deal.

As far as building connections goes, I give people the same advice. I tell people that it’s a good idea to make as many connections as they can, as soon as they can, and I stand by that advice —  as long as people realize that your ability to influence others cannot be quantified solely by the number of connections you have. The quality of those connections and each individual’s interest in you and willingness to listen to or engage with you matters.

If you want to have positive influence in the world, you need to be connected to a growing community of people who are interested in listening to you.

The more people who want to listen to you, the more likely you are to make the positive difference you’d like to make. Why would people want to listen to you? How can you get more people to want to listen to you?

If people perceive that you have value to share, they will listen to you.

The most important step in building a growing community of people who want to listen to you is to share value. Keep sharing value. Connect authentically with people as you share value. Be a real person they can identify with as you share value. Keep sharing value. Keep connecting. Keep sharing value. Put this process on repeat.

Start doing this as soon as you know you want to make a difference in the world, and don’t stop ever. At some point, if your message resonates with enough people, you may realize you have a platform. When you have a platform, use it wisely. Care for the people listening to you by sharing as much value as you can.