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Book Review: Crush It!


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Not long ago, I read a review of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crush It! The reviewer, Michael Hyatt (Twitter | Blog), liked the book so much that after listening to the audio version, he bought the printed version so he could read it and make notes. This is significant because Michael Hyatt knows a good book when he reads it. He’s the CEO of Thomas Nelson and this is not one of Thomas Nelson’s books. As a regular reader of Michael Hyatt’s blog I thought “If he likes it, I’ll probably like it.” So I bought the book.

As I began reading the book, my expectations were high. In addition to Hyatt’s glowing recommendation, the subject of the book is right up my alley, so to speak. Although I had initially resisted getting involved with social networking sites such as FaceBook and Twitter, over the past couple of years I’ve come to embrace the concept.

We Need to Talk

One of the first things many people tend to think of when asked about social media is the amount of time you can easily spend just idly chatting away with friends from around the world. And that’s certainly true. You can waste a lot of time doing that if you are not careful. But in moderation, a bit of water cooler type conversation can be healthy, particularly for those of us who regularly work from a home office.

But despite the potential time sink that these social networking sites can become, I believe that they can be of great benefit when used properly.

On many occasions, I’ve used Twitter to help SQL Server professionals from around the world who have reached out to the SQL community 140 characters at a time. I’ve even hooked up a PowerPoint slide deck to my Twitter account to have it automatically tweet key points during presentations I’ve delivered at conferences and user groups.

And it’s a two-way street; I’ve learned a ton from following Twitter conversations from the likes of Paul Randal (@PaulRandal), Buck Woody (@BuckWoody), Brent Ozar (@BrentO), Jonathan Kehayias (@SQLSarg), and Aaron Bertrand(@AaronBertrand) to name but a few.

It’s Social Networking with a Purpose

And that is Gary Vaynerchuk’s point. When used with intention and focus, social networking sites can be used to find and generate interest about most anything your passionate about.

In Crush It!, he proposes that anyone with “hustle” can take something they are passionate about and turn that into a revenue generating business using social networking sites and blogs. He outlines a pretty straightforward approach. In short (and I’m doing a bit of a disservice by distilling the book down to just these five points):

  1. Find something you are passionate about.
  2. Create a blog about it (audio podcasts, videos, or the written word.)
  3. Generate good content daily.
  4. Promote it by participating in the social networks.
  5. And finally monetize your blog through advertizing.

He doesn’t suggest that this is easy. In fact he repeatedly writes that this will be a lot of hard work and long hours.

A Good Primer

Gary Vaynerchuk comes across as a very dynamic individual with a big personality. He shares some of his background and how he created a very popular wine tasting site with lots and lots of visits each day.

The book starts out by outlining how social networking has changed the way business is done, how it levels the playing field for small businesses with limited promotional budgets.

He then lays out the five points that I’ve already mentioned, encouraging the reader with each step.

The book also provides some specifics about which online services will help you to more easily spread your reach. For instance, Ping.fm, will automatically distribute your status updates to a multitude of different social networking sites, eliminating the need to update each one individually. The same exists for video blogs as well.

Parting Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it. It was a short and easy read and really reinforced some of the concepts I had already learned from other sources on the internet. If you’re just getting started with social networks or you have a penchant for starting an online business, this book is well work its cost.

But to provide an honest and complete review, I’ll share a few minor negatives I had with the book.

Unfortunately in my case, my prior experience with social networks combined with my high expectations for the book left me wanting more. The book was very much premised on how Gary Vaynerchuk built his successful wine tasting site and didn’t explore other related topics.

For example the book did not touch on how to balance being personable in your online approach with staying focused and on subject. It also didn’t consider ways to monetizing your social networking without advertising. And finally I didn’t discuss how and when to create multiple online accounts for specific purposes.

At times during the book Gary Vaynerchuk came across like many of the late night paid advertising shows. “Using my system, you too can make $218,000 a month and live the life you deserve.” (That’s not an actual quote from the book by the way.)

Now some questions for you:

  • Have you read the book? If so, what are your impressions?
  • What other social networking resources have your found worthwhile?

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