One of the most important features that a person needs to be seen as a thought leader is credibility. Your audience needs to trust you and see that you’ve got integrity. Your innovative ideas won’t get heard if the audience doesn’t believe in them. Here’s how to establish your credibility as a thought leader.
Know your stuff
At the most basic level, a thought leader is someone who has superior competence on a subject – be it an industry, a product or a general topic. Thought leaders know so much about that specific topic that they could talk for hours, truthfully, about their thoughts on the topic. If someone were to ask a question, they wouldn’t need to do any research and their thoughts would purely come from the top of their head. Simply put, thought leaders know their stuff.
Make a solid effort
You’ve got the thoughts down pat, now you need to put the leadership into place. You do that with a solid effort to get your thoughts out there. Whether you are publishing articles on a blog and on social platforms or doing presentations and talks to other industry people, you need to do this often and well in order to earn the title of “thought leader”. When people see your face and hear your words over and over, they will come to trust that what you have to say is meaningful. If you don’t make the time to get yourself out there, you will easily be forgotten.
Your voice is one of the most important parts of your image as a thought leader. But, this voice needs to have a consistency to it in order to gain the trust of your audience. If your thoughts are “all over the place” (think: Donald Trump) your believability will crash and you will lose the belief of your followers. While it is always ok to change your mind, if your overall calls to action are not consistent, your audience will move on.
Actively listen and address your audience
A thought leader doesn’t just spout off their ideas – they actively listen and learn from their audience as well. They answer questions on social media and enthusiastically participate in discussions that others are having, in person and online. Even better, thought leaders show appreciation to their audience for their input and make it a large part of their strategy.
Don’t just self-promote
While one of the purposes of becoming a thought leader is to gain leads and build your brand in order to make a profit, being a thought leader shouldn’t all be about promoting yourself (or your products or companies). Rarely anyone wants to feel they are being sold to, so self-promotion can really alter your status as a thought leader. In order for your audience to trust you, they need to believe that you are giving them valuable information without expecting anything else in return. If you are taking the steps necessary to establish your credibility, your followers will believe in you and in turn, believe in your products and organization and you won’t need to do any promotion.
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.
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