If you’ve decided that your next career aspiration is to become a thought leader, that’s definitely a great decision. As an individual who drives innovation, ideas and industry experience, the path to thought leadership should be an easy one to attain – if you know the right steps.
- Create a strategy
Decide what your main purpose is in becoming a thought leader or having thought leadership within your organization. While monetization could be the ultimate goal, consider what other goals you’d like to see attained. Once you know what these are, you can create a strategy for content, networking and marketing.
- Establish your personal brand
As an individual thought leader, you need to create a brand for yourself. First, define your target audience and then decide who you will be for your audience. While authenticity is one of the best ways to succeed and have continued success as a thought leader, having a consistent image that resonates with your audience is going to be the best way to pull off an authentic personal brand. Your personal brand is your reputation and if you have a good one up until now, continue to grow it. Building your personal brand will also involve creating content and building up your online assets, which we talk about below.
- Work with other influencers
The best thought leaders are always educating themselves on the industry, on other thought leaders and on just the world in general. If you have access to mentors or influencers, take full advantage of this and reach out to them for advice. Subscribe to their blogs and social media accounts and learn everything you can as you try and build your own reputation and knowledge base. Keep abreast of studies and happenings in your industry, again by subscribing to relevant content and making time each week to read it and understand it. Be sure to comment on your mentor’s work regularly on their social accounts, as this will help you to get your name out there.
- Create valuable content for your audience
One of the most important steps on the journey to thought leadership is to create valuable content. You should be publishing this content regularly to a blog you created, as well as sharing it in as many places as possible. If your ideas and thoughts resonate with your audience, they’ll share them too and you’ll begin to build up a good subscriber base. Reach out to others in the industry and see if you can publish on their blogs as well, driving their readers to your space. If your knowledge is great, but your writing skills aren’t, consider hiring a ghost writer who can succinctly develop your ideas on paper. This can make a huge difference in how your content is received, as readability is very important.
- Network every chance you get
Move outside of your circle and introduce yourself to people with which you wouldn’t normally interact. Take every opportunity to be present at speaking events, conferences and other networking events, where you can really make an impact on getting your personal brand recognized. With more people in your network, your work will be shared more frequently and your authority will increase. This often happens exponentially, so put in the man-hours and do the work to show your face and speak your mind. Networking doesn’t just have to happen in person anymore either – there is quite a bit more you can do online these days to develop contacts and reach out to potential leads and subscribers.
If you found this article interesting, you may also enjoy reading the other articles I’ve recently posted on Executive Outlook about Thought Leadership. Please feel free to share these articles with your network.
Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to build your personal brand and position yourself as a Thought Leader. If you need assistance optimizing your profile or writing content, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.