Dan Pink was in town recently, and since I (like many folks on the MACPA payroll) can’t seem to get enough of Mr. Pink, I lined up early to see him. He didn’t disappoint.

Dan’s most recent book is “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” He dropped by Maryville University in St. Louis to spread this simple truth: No matter what we do for a living, we’re all salespeople. Even if we’re not selling a product, chances are we’re selling a service, an idea, a concept, or ourselves.

Especially ourselves.

We’ve heard Dan’s message before but it’s worth repeating, because the opportunities available to those who understand it are huge. Thanks to today’s social tools, the smallest firms can compete with corporate behemoths for clients and talent, and each of us can be a thought leader.

To do that, we need to stand apart. We need to convince the world that we’re worth paying attention to. We need to sell ourselves.

How do we do that? By building relationships, starting conversations, asking questions, listening, sharing information and resources, solving problems. Do those things often enough and people begin to trust you, to seek out your counsel, to see you as the expert you are. Your influence grows. So do your business opportunities.

The cool thing is, social media lets us do those things on a much grander scale than ever.

Seth Godin has been preaching a similar message for years. Business today isn’t about selling stuff. It’s about selling ourselves. It’s about giving stuff away -– our knowledge, our resources, adding value to other people’s lives and not expecting anything in return — and becoming indispensable in the process. In Godin’s words, generosity generates income.

Interesting concept for a social world. Will it work? We won’t know unless we give it a try.

There’s a world of people out there who want to know what we know. Tell them. Earn their trust by making them smarter.

You might just earn their business along the way.

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