You Don’t Have to Break New Ground to Contribute

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by Sarah Warlick, content director

“It’s been done” shouldn’t keep you from starting a conversation or stating your position.

Variations on the sunBlogging, tweeting and all the other opportunities to contribute to the social media conversation can be intimidating for a lot of professionals, particularly when they feel that they have to come up with completely original ideas for every bit of content. Relax, because that isn’t actually required.

Novelty is a fine thing and brand new concepts are always welcome. By all means, share them! But there’s no need to feel burdened by the responsibility to break new ground at every turn – your unique point of view is quite sufficient to create interesting content.

Malcolm Gladwell agrees with this premise. In fact, he recently said that the worst advice he ever received was to consider “It’s been done” as a deterrent to tackling a particular topic. During a panel discussion at New York University described by Jenna Goudreau, the respected writer and social scientist staunchly defended the value of new takes on old issues. “There are 100 articles written on the same topic every day,” according to Gladwell. “The world can happily accept more than one approach.”

This is an important truth that can and should encourage professionals in every niche to be comfortable sharing their ideas on the issues they deal with each day, even when those issues have been longstanding topics of conversation. To deliver valuable content focused on familiar topics, it is only necessary to contribute a unique perspective that reflects the individual approach or a particular angle.

For the best success when tackling well-known topics of conversation, try these tactics:

Be specific. What’s different about your take on the issue from the standard view? How will your approach affect the outcome?

Be concrete. Use examples that allow the readers to picture themselves in the same situation. Why would a person in the same situation choose the approach you advocate?

Be a tour guide. Take the reader on the journey that led you to arrive at your particular perspective. Share stories that illustrate the principles you’re describing.

Be fair. Are there good arguments for and against your interpretation, or drawbacks to your suggested plan? Sharing the cons as well as the pros conveys your professional integrity in addition to your depth of understanding.

Face it: most things have been done. The Latin proverb “Nihi novi sub sole” may not be quite true, but it’s not far off. You don’t have to bear the onus of novelty as an admission fee to the ongoing conversation. You just have to show up and make a good case for your own interpretation. As Gladwell points out, “The most effective thing you can do is not shut up about what you’re doing.”

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