The term ‘thought leader’ is often used to describe someone who is a recognised authority within their industry, who garners the greatest respect from their followers, and who can be relied upon to lead their ‘tribe’ towards greater knowledge.
Often coined within the online business arena, thought leadership happens when ideas spread rapidly or ‘go viral’ on the internet.
Social media has allowed thought leadership to become a recognised accolade given to such business icons as Sir Richard Branson and to companies with the calibre of Google.
Are You a Thought Leader in the Making?
If you have designs on becoming a thought leader, what qualities and experience would help you become the ‘go to’ person in your industry?
• Unquestionable expertise: expertise and knowledge of your particular sector needs to be beyond all doubt
• The ability to clearly deliver a message: self-assurance is a must if you want to deliver a convincing message to your followers
• Willingness to stand out from the crowd: by definition, a thought leader stands head and shoulders above the crowd, so be prepared to talk to the press in person as well as via social media
How to Cultivate Your Position as a Thought Leader
There are certain things you can do to help build your profile among your peers and followers, which if taken as a whole will have a huge impact on your industry standing:
• Develop a business blog: surely the cornerstone of all content marketing, your business blog should present new ideas in a considered, cohesive, thought-provoking way that sparks discussion within your industry.
Thoughts on emerging trends or specific problems in your sector can be put forward for debate, using a pre-defined timetable of blog post submissions.
• Guest blog: widen your reach by guest blogging on other carefully chosen blogs and business websites – other businesses will be scrambling to get your attention and the links back to your own site will help you gain momentum as a thought leader.
• Plenty of tweets: interact with people in your industry, and in addition to sharing your own content, include links to other useful articles within the business area.
• Connect on LinkedIn: make your professional presence felt by joining groups in your business sector, engage in discussions on the site, make strategic connections, and regularly update your profile so that you remain ‘in view.’
• Public speaking: emerge from behind the computer and cement your status as a thought leader by speaking at business events, seminars or conferences.
Training in public speaking is readily available for those unsure about literally being in the public eye. This step can boost your profile more than any amount of online networking.
Take Your Business to the Next Level
Thought leadership status offers a competitive advantage that other business people only aspire to.
It brings with it many business benefits including being able to attract ideal clients with ease, and collaborate with carefully chosen strategic partners.
Imagine attracting the attention of business leaders who you have previously admired from afar, only to have them contact you for help and guidance on a problem within the industry.
As far as your customers are concerned, by developing an ongoing dialogue with them, you build a reputation as a problem solver, offering solutions and paving the way towards a large, loyal customer base.
Differentiating your company from that of competitors is a proven way to boost your brand, and thought leadership is probably the ultimate unique selling point.
Becoming indispensable in the eyes of your customers can see you through challenging economic times, and set you up for long-term success.
Staying in the spotlight and letting your voice be heard either online or in person is a sure fire way to attract the interest not only of customers, but also other business leaders and potential collaborative partners.