What does it take to bring your business to the next level? Well, the answer lies in you and your position as a thought leader.
What is a thought leader, you ask? They’re the people at the top of their fields, trusted and respected for their expertise and insights. And because thought leaders stand head and shoulders above their peers, they are in the perfect position to pull their companies up with them and reach even greater success. Here’s the secret: no one is born a thought leader; you have to become one. But how? It’s not hard if you follow these tips on becoming a thought leader in your industry.
1. Establish Your Personal Brand
As we have said before, building up your personal brand comes with a laundry list of benefits. The most important effect, however, is that it is the main contributor to your status as a thought leader. Part of being a thought leader is that people know who you are and recognize what you can do — both of which come directly from your personal brand.
2. Create Content
Being a thought leader means having thoughtful, original content that positions you as a leader in your industry. For many businesses and individuals, this means creating and maintaining a blog on their website.
There are several benefits to blogging. It allows you to show off your expertise, and because it is all hosted online, readers can go back through your older material and see the full breadth of your knowledge and experience. It is also shareable and referenceable, meaning that you can spread your personal brand to new audiences and be cited by others as an industry leader. And finally, all of that original written content does wonders for your search engine optimization (SEO), which means that far more people will find your website.
You may also want to look into publishing a few articles in industry magazines or newsletters. Spread these out across months and publications to maximize your impact, and ensure that they are timely enough to grab readers’ attention. Keep it informative, not promotional — you must make sure that your author byline mentions what you do, but your article should not be about selling your product or service.
But what if you don’t like to write, or want to do more than run a blog online? If you are a great public speaker, look for speaking opportunities where you can get in front of your peers and other industry leaders and share your experience with them. If you can record your sessions and post them on your website, blog, or online profiles, even better.
The more industry-specific a speaking gig is, the better. However, even more general opportunities to speak in related topics will help build your personal brand and get you more well-known. At first, you may need to settle for unpaid speaking sessions, but as you become more well-known as a thought leader you may even find organizations lining up to offer you money to talk at their events.
No matter which route you choose, make sure that your content (written or spoken) is high-quality, engaging, and relevant to your industry.
3. Market Yourself
What is the point of having a lot of articles or speaking gigs if no one knows how to find them? Just like you market your business, you need to market yourself as a thought leader. So how do you do this?
First of all, study up on SEO to make sure that the right people in your industry are finding you. You must make sure that your name is one of the first things that pops up in a search engine when a visitor enters in a relevant keyword.
Second of all, broaden your reach. If you have social media profiles, advertise your blog posts or videos on them. LinkedIn in particular makes it very easy to showcase your experiences and achievements in a portfolio-like profile. Find places where it makes sense to let your presence be known, like industry publications, organizations, and events. Be available and be known.
4. Educate Others
Here’s the most important step of becoming a thought leader: focus on educating others, not promoting your business. Obviously, the end goal is to grow your business through your own personal brand as a leader. But being a thought leader is all about being known as an innovative, knowledgeable expert in your industry — not a salesman.
It’s okay to mention your company or a success story, but that kind of promotional content should never be the main focus.