The central message of this Special Report is one of empowerment: taking control of your own business profile and leveraging it in a way that is best calculated to achieve maximum impact. I recommend it highly to all aspiring and established professionals seeking both to make a name for themselves in their chosen field, and to grow their business successfully.

The structure of the publication is simple, with short chapters, each conveying clear points. Content-wise, the key aspects of one’s professional profile are addressed, along with real-life “soundbite” quotes extracted in support of, or to illustrate, the points being made throughout. These are quotes from attendees of courses on the subject (understandably, without attribution); they add authenticity and a sense of how the ideas and concepts covered apply in practice. In terms of style, the author, Rebecca Harding, practises what she preaches throughout the report: a readable account that is concise and easy to digest. The use of practical pointers and the assigning of “tasks” assist the reader to apply the approaches and techniques advocated to his or her own situation, and will no doubt figure heavily in business plans which are formulated to put into action the recommendations in the report.

Harding encourages the reader to re-evaluate their current approach to profile-building, and succeeds in doing so, in an open and constructive way. She presents new ideas and approaches, which, although they might not come naturally to certain professionals, are explained in a clear and well thought-out manner, such that their application in practice will soon begin to feel second-nature. The practical guidance provided is particularly insightful: Harding discourages natural tendencies to downplay key attributes and selling points, and outlines methods by which professionals can sell their strengths more effectively, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. There is a clear emphasis on promoting interactions and positive engagement with existing and new business contacts, particularly in the use of social media – where contributions by professionals sometimes can fall flat.

More traditional means of business development and profile-raising – notably, writing articles and public speaking – are covered, too. Refreshingly, here, Harding presents her recommendations through a modern lens: the focus is on leveraging the limited time available to many busy professionals in a way that will help them to achieve maximum coverage and impact with their intended audiences.

For me, a key takeaway – and something that resonates with my own professional experiences – is what is said about putting into practice best-laid plans, once all the learnings from the Special Report have been assimilated. Here, Harding says: “Implementation is what makes the real difference and that is where others often fall down”. She goes on to describe how effective implementation can be achieved with some helpful suggestions and tips.

The publication of this Special Report is timely. There is no question that the COVID-19 era has been a game-changer for professionals in many aspects of their working lives. This has been particularly noticeable in the field of business development and building one’s professional profile, with many of the conventional “routes to market” having been cut off during the pandemic and the lockdown measures that it has brought. Although this has presented challenges, the situation has nevertheless meant that those affected face similar disadvantages, resulting in something of a levelling of the playing-field – in certain respects, at least. This creates common opportunities for many professionals seeking to build their profiles, networks and grow their businesses. Those who are armed with this Special Report will be particularly well-placed to steal a march on the opposition.

Mark Craggs, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright