It’s never too late to invest in a better diet, but you need a plan. It makes all the difference.

When you want to achieve something, you need to prepare. Winging it is no recipe for success. What you want will also determine how you prepare. If you want to run a marathon your body will need the right kind of fuel. If you want to excel in comms, you also need to watch what you EAT.

Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are three things that will affect search engine optimisation but also how impactful you are as a Comms Pro generally. That might not be a revelation, but it is worthy of consideration. Can you honestly say you know what each attribute means? And can you hand on heart say you have a plan to build on them?

Your expertise: What you know today has a very short shelf-life. To be an expert means to stay an expert, so you need to keep investing in learning. Working and studying at the same time is a real challenge, but because sharing of knowledge is so routine on social networks it shouldn’t be arduous. Use your Twitter lists to follow true thought leaders and participate in LinkedIn Groups. Make the most of your time. YouTube talks are an amazing source of insights and doing a MOOCs course is also a great way to stay on top of what you need to. Being an expert doesn’t have to mean going back to university for years to get your doctorate. The democratisation of learning shows there are innumerable ways to keep an agile mind.

Your authority: What you write, what you say and where you work all support your authority, but they’re not the measure of it. It’s important to ask yourself why you do what you do if you’re to set a referencable benchmark. Part of being authoritative is therefore about being teachable. Personal brand mentorship is something that helps keep you in check. Choose your mentor(s) wisely. It’s okay to have more than one. In fact, I’d encourage it. The main prerequisite is that they are prepared to challenge you. Authority is a willingness to accept responsibility. To maintain and enhance your position means submitting yourself to your mentor’s perspective. Authority is something bestowed on you, not something to aspire for. You receive authority when you are the best you can be and you can only do that when you are surrounded by the right people.

Your trustworthiness: Your credibility is not innate. How much people trust you largely depends on who you are connected to. Relationships take work. Network like you mean it. Take a genuine interest in people. It’s not about short term return. Paying it forward is an attitude that will serve you well as you prove you are trustworthy by doing things that don’t immediately facilitate some benefit for you. Loyalty is a rare commodity in business, but character is something that is a core component of any good Comms Pro. If people don’t trust you, you can’t do your job.

Your plan: It’s one thing to acknowledge something as true, it’s another to actively incorporate that truth into your everyday. This is the reason most New Year’s resolutions fail. If you genuinely want to watch what you EAT, today not tomorrow is the time to put pen to paper detailing how you intend to do it. There is no trick accept to ensure you build accountability into your plan. It’s a simple rule but a powerful learning. Staying in front means getting in shape.