Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley was published in 2014 and gives a five-step method for becoming one of the most highly valued and highly paid people in your industry.
I think it’s an awesome read for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs – for people who want to set up a business or grow a business.
But it’s also a great read – the perfect read – for consultant and freelance software developers, not least because it addresses the five biggest problems developers often face.
- I can’t find clients
- I can’t close the deal
- I feel like an imposter
- I can’t do this alone
- I don’t have a plan
This book is going to help you learn how to attract opportunities, sell effectively and get clients lining up to do business with you. It will show you how to build confidence and, most importantly, influence. It will reveal how to create partnerships so you’re not doing everything alone. And, it’s going to wrap it up into a five-step plan for you.
It’s one of the best books I can recommend for building a business.
#1. “I can’t find clients”
Learn how to attract opportunities instead
I don’t know where to find clients and it’s stressing me out. Where do I go? Where’s the cafe they all hang out at?*
Consultant and freelance software developers tell me the search for new business can be terrifying. Like business is dependent on locating – and chasing – the right people.
Read Key Person of Influence to understand how to stop the eternal search, put yourself in the centre of your industry, and attract clients and opportunities to you instead.
In the book:
Key Person of Influence hinges on a central theme of attracting opportunities. In a way, it’s all about answering the question, ‘How do I stop chasing opportunities,’ whether that means chasing clients, investment, whatever.
At the centre of every industry you will find an inner circle of people who are the most well known and highly valued. They are the ‘Key People of Influence’ … These people are in demand; they don’t chase opportunities, they curate them.
This last sentence is so important.
The consultants and freelancers I know all want to get the stage where work comes to them. But figuring out how to make this happen is the biggest hurdle.
Key Person of Influence is the road map. Part I, in particular, considers the changes you need to make in your own action and thinking in order to start attracting opportunities.
You’ll learn about following your passion, being ‘vital’ rather than ‘functional’, working ‘smart’ rather than ‘hard’, even how technology plays a role in this new world order.
The book shows how to get your interests, your niche, your pitch, your products all lined up to attract the right people to you.
#2. “I can’t close the deal”
Learn how to sell effectively
When I give my rates, they disappear. Or they take ages to come back to me to start the work.*
One of the problems consultant and freelance software developers often talk about is how potential clients don’t take them seriously, and how they can’t close the deal.
Read Key Person of Influence to understand how to get clients lining up to do business with you, so that closing the deal becomes a matter of course.
In the Book:
The whole five-step KPI method tackles this issue. But it’s step three – Products – that really stood out for me in relation to this specific problem.
Products and services don’t make money; product and service ecosystems do.
In a nutshell, this means creating certain products (and / or productised services) that are built at the first level for volume to drive relationships, and at the next level to deliver high value and drive profit.
So a product ecosystem might include a free podcast full of tips, which links to low-cost products, which links to a high-value, ‘done-for-you’ service. You get the picture.
But how many of us invest in this ecosystem, looking first to delight with a free product or service, and then to concentrate on the sale with something of high value?
Priestley mentions how customers take 7 hours, 11 interactions and 4 locations to build the trust needed to buy something.
The book – especially step three – considers the ecosystem that creates the trust that leads to closing the deal (actually, that leads to closing a series of deals).
#3. “I feel like an imposter”
Learn how to build confidence
I find it really difficult to get into the mindset of promoting myself. When I was employed, it was easy to talk about my old company. But promoting me? Not so easy.*
Consultant and freelance software developers tell me one of their biggest problems is promoting themselves with confidence and dealing with ‘imposter syndrome’.
Read Key Person of Influence to learn how to overcome lack of confidence and the feeling of being an imposter, and build real gravitas and influence.
In the Book:
After reading this book, your immediate reaction might be, ‘I could never be a Key Person of Influence in my industry – I don’t have the years of experience or the level of expertise.’ Except you DO.
Your greatest asset is your existing passion, the skills you already have and, most of all, your own personal story.
Part I shows you how you’re already an expert. “Your journey thus far has not been a waste of time; it’s been perfect.” You just need to hone your story.
Part II looks at the process of doing just that – refining your story. Steps one, two and four really concentrate on preparing 1) your Pitch, 2) your Published materials, and 4) your Profile, especially your online profile.
Priestley mentions it should take a year to become a Key Person of Influence. But your career, your passions, already provide the bedrock upon which you build.
This book really deals with much more than just building your confidence. It shows you how your life has been leading up to this moment, and that what you need, you already have.
The five-step KPI method builds confidence and banishes imposter syndrome, because you’re really forced to concentrate on the “mountain of value” you’ve already generated throughout your life.
#4. “I can’t do this alone”
Learn how to create partnerships
I just don’t have time to do this myself. How do I get support?*
I really understand this. I’ve worked solo and it was tough, and now I work in a team and it’s definitely easier. Consultant and freelance software developers need support.
Read Key Person of Influence to understand how to look out for and to create meaningful relationships, so that you never have to work entirely alone again.
In the Book:
My first business was my own masterclass in how to kill myself by not asking for help. But I’ve come to learn there’s absolutely NO WAY to consult or freelance alone. Partnership is key:
The spirit of partnership has to begin at the core of your business wth the co-founders, the employees and the suppliers.
It’s not always possible or desirable to go down the micro-consultancy route, where you hire people or enter contracts to team up with them. But, nonetheless, there is plenty of room for partnership.
Step five looks at Partnership. It offers ideas and ways of working with others.
This includes: Co-promotion, product creation partnerships, packaging up, free-bundle groups – lots of different ideas.
Opportunities for partnership can be found simply by keeping your eyes open and looking for skillsets that you can bring and that you need.
What really jumped out at me is how Priestley describes the spirit of partnership. You must genuinely care about the desires of the person you’re partnering with by bringing something to the table – not just looking to get, but also to give.
#5. “I don’t have a plan”
Learn the 5-step KPI method
My biggest problem is that I tend to throw things into the ether and not hear the echo. I need a plan.*
Consultant and freelance software developers tell me they tend to take an ad hoc approach to growing their business. What they really need is a method or strategy for working efficiently.
Read Key Person of Influence to create a clear road map towards a successful business – the tried-and-tested, five-step KPI method.
In the Book:
The whole book is your plan, but the real way of solving business problems is to get busy.
It is not enough to know the path, we must walk it.
If parts I and II are the plan, part III of the book is all about making it happen – overcoming the inevitable hurdles that might stop you putting your plan into action.
You could dive into any section of the book and gain valuable insights. But it’s clear you need to put the pieces together in the right order to gain the real value, and also focus on implementation.
I thoroughly recommend the book. Consultant and freelance software developers can learn a lot from it in relation to service-based business.
And if you have a technology side hustle, I’d say it’s essential reading for creating and launching your new product.
If you’re thinking of radically growing your business, two more books follow Key Person of Influence: Oversubscribed and 24 Assets.
I also attended Priestley’s Brand Expansion Workshop last week – an opportunity to hear Priestley go into detail on the five-step KPI method. It was excellent.
*Anonymised quotes from software developers, not quotes from Key Person of Influence.