If you’re a marketing expert, speaker, singer, business executive, company leader, author, entrepreneur, ‘thought leadership’ matters to you! In fact, thought leaders come in every shape and size, they do come from any background or community and they can be any age, gender or ethnicity too!
Your target audience is online, and it’s consuming content to make even more informed decisions than anytime ever in history. Consumers today are making decisions about where to buy and who to trust. Content that comes from you and represents your brand can positively influence those decisions.
Thought Leaders benefit from this trend in many ways including:
- Customers, Companies and Brands want to hire experts
- People want to do business with people they TRUST, not corporate logos or promotional ads
- High quality, engaging content boosts brand awareness, generates more leads, more sales and better recruitment.
Based on decades of working with professionals in the advertising, marketing, media, iconic brands and tech PLUS, their firms and other types of organizations. So what constitutes a ‘thought leader’?
Here’s how the Oxford English Dictionary defines thought leader:
“One whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential.”
It’s no wonder so many business owners, celebrities and executives invest millions of dollars trying to attain this status.
So here’s how you can become even more influential and become a thought leader or expert in your Industry today.
Importantly, pursuing a thought leadership and content strategy can deliver short-term benefits and rewards BUT the true value often comes further down the road once all the effects begin compounding.
Jim Rohn once said ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’, so to become a true thought leader, you need to increase your average. Build relationships with other influencers, experts and leaders. Share knowledge and add value to their lives. Interview them, dig deep to find out how they got where they are.
You can’t get from where you are to where you want to go without other people. So surround yourself with the right people.
THE STEPS TO BECOME A THOUGHT LEADER IN YOUR INDUSTRY:
- BUILD AND CREATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL BRAND
Importantly, from day one, it is vital to be seen and viewed as authentic. When you try to be something you are not or say things you don’t believe in, trust me, the audience will know it. Find your passion, identify the arena of passion, interest, expertise, credibility and commit to it!.
Personal brands rest at the heart of many marketing strategies, and thought leadership is a natural extension of the ability to build a reputation. Start out by enhancing or restructuring your existing social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, with detailed descriptions of your credentials and career accomplishments.
Avoid being over promotional. Being promotional can turn off your audience. Remember, your role is to be inspirational and to share insights and valuable information. Show don’t tell.
- LAUNCH A BLOG AND DEVELOP IMPACTFUL AND GREAT CONTENT WEEKLY
In order to become a thought leader, you are going to have to write, speak, produce videos, start a podcast, get interviewed and come up with original ideas about the topic you want to specialize in. You are going to have to do this consistently for years too!
It is vital to have a unique voice, write often, produce valuable content and then promote it and yourself. Strive for provocative and focused thinking.
‘Increase productivity in your primary field of interest. Specifically, focus on prolific quality output (PQO) in the area in which you want to be known and to drive impact. You’ll also have to minimize distractions (including opportunities) that steal your attention from creating PQO.’
I strongly recommend focusing at least 60% of your time on ‘needle moving’ PQO’s! And, the balance of your time on managing life, your team, tasks, etc.
Always strive to activate your advocates and followers to champion your products, programs and initiatives too!
- NETWORK AND CONNECT WITH ALL THE MAJOR INFLUENCERS IN YOUR INDUSTRY
Once you’ve established a baseline reputation, start reaching out to potential mentors, experts and other influencers in the Industry. They should be relatively easy to find if you’re pushing your content socially, and some of them might find you naturally without you lifting a finger.
Once you find a handful that are willing to work with you, stand back and observe. Talk to them about what’s on their minds. Watch how they operate their own businesses. Read what they push to their blogs.
The goal is to have some role models to emulate, to learn from them, and to learn to think how they think. If you want to speed up your success, look at the people and leaders that are getting the results you’re after! This saves years of lost time and allows you to be influential even faster.
- DEVELOP PARTNERSHIPS
One of the most important things to do if you want to be viewed as an expert or Thought Leader is to build a Partnership with a high profile Corporation or Non-Profit. The benefit of partnering with a major Corporation or Client is simple – it allows you the opportunity to connect and share your message with millions of people at a time and not just one customer at a time.
Corporations and Fortune 500 Brands love partnerships simply because it allows them to benefit from your research, stories and experiences while offering their customer base great content, ideas and adding value to their customers and base too. There are amazing synergies between a partnership deal as well. Especially as both groups can impact more people, align their missions, passions and mutually profit and growth their businesses !
Best yet, many Fortune 500 companies and Non-Profits already budget to: sponsor live events, run corporate programs, educational programs, run contests or promotions and often have massive websites and online communities too!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to establish a global partnership with a brand like: Coca-Cola, VISA, Audi, Verizon, Apple, LinkedIn or many others!
Expect magic if you build a solid partnership, and you’ll constantly be surprised by the strong relationships that will be built. Just think what Fortune 500’s can do for you:
- Feature you on their website
- Feature you in their print publications and newsletters
- Invite you to speak at conferences, trade-shows, etc.
- Arrange media appearances
- Even email their customers, staff, suppliers, etc. – promotional material about you!
- FORECAST TRENDS AND DISCUSS DISRUPTIVE THINKING AND IDEAS
Once you’ve established your reputation as a thought leader or authority in the industry, there’s only one more step to take: you have to become a leader, and to do that, you have to do new things. Start making bolder claims in your articles, and making bigger predictions about the future of your industry.
Drive change and innovation in your own business and publicize those efforts. With your authority already established, people will immediately begin to see you as a bona fide thought leader. Thought Leaders are usually provocative, set ripples of influence and set the trends too.
- USE LIVE VIDEOS
Using live videos can also play a huge role in becoming a thought leader and getting more influence. With amazing tools today including: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Periscope, YouTube, etc. – it’s easier than ever.
If you have a breakthrough idea or concept, you can now share it instantaneously. And, within minutes, great content can go ‘viral’ globally!
Using Twitter’s live streaming app, Periscope’s is growing massively today, it isn’t a guaranteed shortcut to leadership or ‘thought leadership’ status BUT, it’s a great way to connect with audience members in a groundbreaking way.
Users who enable ‘push notifications’ can follow you live from your office, conferences or special events. The best thing about this app is its sense of intimacy; brand fans can jump in and out of a broadcast, engaging with you in real time by asking questions and sharing likes.
Periscope uses your Twitter account to sign you in, and helps you find people to follow. You can announce your broadcasts through Twitter by tapping the bird icon before you start. If you don’t want to share your broadcasts with everyone, tapping the lock icon before you start will allow you to select specific people to invite to your stream.
- BE SOCIAL
I also recommend you select your favorite social media platforms. Then engage with your readers, community and other key influencers in the industry. Always make sure you share posts, ReTweet and like your communities posts too. (Share the love)
- GET PUBLISHED
Today, with all the media channels, disruption and noise out there – I believe arguably the best way to become a thought leader almost overnight is by getting published by one of the major Publishing Companies. E.g. McGraw – Hill, Pearson, Penguin Publishing, Hay House, Simon & Schuster, etc.
Think about it. Authors go from relative obscurity to legitimate thought leaders with that ‘golden stamp’ of publishing approval and acceptance.
There’s also a reason why we use the phrase “he’s practically written the book on it” when we’re describing somebody’s impressive expertise. Getting published gives you authority, as well as expands your reach well beyond your normal content channels.
So if you want to speed up your path to becoming a thought leader, write the book on your topic. Get published.
Additionally, the great news is that once you break through and get a contract with a major Publishing Company, the world is your oyster: there is no more definitive proof of thought leadership than authoring a good book on your chosen subject.
- START BUILDING YOUR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP POSITIONING WITH LINKEDIN
I thoroughly recommend to anyone trying to become a ‘thought leader’ is to set up a profile on LinkedIn immediately. Here is a quick snapshot of some key reasons for all Americans to take notice:
- Over 143 million workers in the U.S. have LinkedIn profiles;
- Over 20,000 companies in the U.S. use LinkedIn to recruit;
- Over 3 million jobs are posted on LinkedIn in the U.S. every month; and members can add over 50,000 skills to their profiles to showcase their professional brands.
- SPEAK AT INDUSTRY EVENTS AND CONFERENCES
One of the best ways to gain recognition and grow your thought leadership is speak at leading Industry Events and Conferences. National Events are a must. So consider speaking at workshops, events, expos or Chamber of Commerce events too. Speaking will demonstrate your expertise to new potential followers and fans too. It will also demonstrate your expertise to the local market as well.
Importantly, if you handle it right, events are a great way to get free publicity from your local newspapers and TV stations, too. Make sure you give them advance notice of the event and send them a media kit and Press Release too.
Your goal is ubiquity with speaking, social media and appearing on TV and cable.
- APPEAR ON TV AND CABLE
Make it a point to build relationships with TV producers — you can often follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter and even strike up a conversation.
Cable news outlets are particularly good targets because they have so much airtime to fill. I suggest you create a media kit (with your bio, some writing you’ve done, and topics you can comment on) and send it over to the Cable Network. And when breaking news hits, shoot producers an email offering to appear and listing the main points you’ll make. If they’re in enough of a rush to book guests, you may hit the jackpot. This is a great way to dramatically increase your public exposure.
- FLAUNT HIGH QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS & ASSOCIATIONS
If you’ve got well-known connections, a massive network – I think you must strategically showcase and leverage them. For example, Ivy League pedigree? Stint at Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Apple, BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather, DDB, etc.? Testimonial quotes from industry celebs? It’s credibility by proxy.
In my case, I was fortunate and had luck by living and working in New York City, Greenwich, CT, San Francisco, Sydney, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and London for example. Living globally has been an amazing experience to meet ‘movers and shakers’ globally.
- TEACH PEOPLE TO THINK
This is the last point of this article BUT it is definitely one of the most important things you need to address to become more influential. As every expert, thought leader or influencer understands – to be a ‘thought leader’ you must get people to think about:
- Other people
- The community around them and the world at large
Always endeavor to shape people’s thinking by saying things like: ‘Think of the situation this way…’ ‘What would happen if we did it like this….’ or even ‘What do you think about…’ Challenge people to grow!
Additionally, try to be a role model and show up daily. If you are a role model for you family, team and broader community – you will also increase your integrity, heart and excellence.
Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people and experts in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success.
If you are looking to be an expert, leader or even a thought leader, I believe its critical you always ensure you are on the cutting edge, consistently sharing knowledge and expertise, constantly innovating and hopefully getting recognized for your expertise and innovation.
I also believe being recognized as a thought leader in your field is even more powerful form of inbound marketing than content marketing. Especially if you set up a Partnership with a Fortune 500 company with a global reach and customer base!
If you want to be a role model, expert or thought leader you must learn to grow and improve in all your levels of performance in areas of your life. Especially, seeking greater clarity on all projects or initiatives, generating more energy, raising your necessity, influencing all those around you and demonstrating courage and boldness daily.
If you decide to take massive action and want to achieve long-term success, I suggest you find the best habits for your success and gain even more personal growth and achievement. Established thought leaders and their companies are better able to build lasting, trusted long-term relationships by delivering value.
Finally, if you can align your messaging, add relevancy, demonstrate a ROI and add value, coolness and credibility – a partnership is a great start to become a leading ‘thought leader’ today.
Thought leadership is not just being known, its also about being known to make a huge difference today!
ABOUT GEOFF DE WEAVER:
Since 1985, Geoff has helped pioneer the use of inbound/outbound marketing, content marketing strategies, leadership, digital, PR and social media marketing specifically for agency new business.
Geoff is one of the Advertising & Digital industry’s leading agency New Business Thought Leaders. His extensive cross-cultural expertise spans five continents, multiple languages and hundreds of companies.
Geoff can also access hard to reach brands and clients, fully examine and target your exact needs and requirements in all channels. I can even pitch on your behalf and happily be the extension to your company’s new business team.
Give me a call and let me show you a better way, +61 411 224 961 or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Brand Management & Operations, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Advertising, Sales, Training, New Business, Consulting, Management, Leadership Coaching, Team Building, Operations, and Ad Agency Growth.