Thought leadership is what positions your brand as an expert in your industry. It is creating content that positions yourself as knowledgeable and keeping potential customers or clients coming back to you for more insight and information in your industry. – Tony Adragna, www.smartbugmedia.com
Just a bit of trivia: the term “thought leader” was first coined 23 years ago in the pages of Strategy+Business, the publication from consulting firm Booz & Company.
From www.entrepreneur.com, “Thought leaders are CEOs, businesspeople, entrepreneurs and other individuals who are respected for their knowledge and expertise and who have something to say and know how to say it.” In short, a thought leader is someone regarded as an authority in his/her field—someone other professionals in the field look up to.
We’ve known a lot of sales and marketing influencers but these TOP TEN Thought Leaders in ASIA were the most influential speakers in the industry.
Thought leadership can spread awareness about the individual’s company while he or she develops a personal brand, influence and credibility. Just like building a business, becoming a recognized thought leader requires dedication and a strategy, not necessarily in that order.
Here are some of the strategies. The dedication is entirely up to you.
Define your purpose
Much like a sailor charting the course of his expedition, the most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.
Do you want recognition? Do you want to earn credibility and respect from your peers and from the public? Do you want to offer advice and help people?
Figure out your purpose and why becoming a thought leader is important to you. Then build a strategy to support that purpose and your goals.
Find your own voice
Thought leaders have a strong, identifiable and distinct voice that sets them apart from others. Their voice is their brand and their audience knows exactly what they stand for and what to expect from them. Most important, they don’t stray from their brand identity and instead look for opportunities to make it even stronger.
If you want to develop a strong voice and brand, ask yourself: What are my values? What do I stand for? What can I offer that isn’t obvious? What can people learn from me?
Be clear and concise about your voice, your stances, and your ideas and be sure that everything you do and say aligns with that. Remember to stay true to who you are because the most successful thought leaders are authentic.
Answer questions they want to know
Distinguish which questions your buyer personas are searching for and create content to answer them. This takes time and research, but is very valuable to becoming a thought leader for your industry. Many people turn to Google when they have questions, so having pieces of content that answer questions that your audience has will be beneficial to your traffic, but also to becoming a thought leader.
Did you know that? Thought Leadership can Boost IT Lead Generation
Here’s one example. We search for a couple of questions at Quora and we found this:
One of our author Judy Caroll had a brilliant idea of crafting an answer to this inquiry and she wrote this blog ‘Quora: Is there such thing as a good B2B lead Generation Company?‘ Genius, isn’t it?
The effort paid off. We acquired 213 shares on Business2community.
Write and write a lot
One of the defining characters of thought leaders is their ability to effectively communicate their expertise and knowledge to their audience. A great way to get your thoughts and experience noticed is by writing about marketing news, strategies, your perspective, industry trends, contributed articles, op-eds (opinion-editorials) and blog posts.
This allows you to be a part of the conversation, establish your voice, demonstrate your expertise and contribute to an ongoing dialogue. Writing gives you the opportunity to not only demonstrate your abilities but also earn credibility with your audience and other thought leaders in your industry.
Do you have advice and tips for other entrepreneurs? Can you provide lessons that you learned while creating and running your business?
Figure out how you can turn your experience and background into a learning opportunity for others and start writing!
Build an active online presence
Great thought leaders have mastered the art of sharing and putting their message and brand out there. A good way to offer advice and tips is to actively share them on social-media platforms. Get your ideas across social media by experimenting with a variety of media formats, from video to infographics to articles. Create content that highlights your expertise and push that content through social media to the right people.
Building an active online presence requires a social-media strategy that allows optimal brand exposure and opportunities to actively connect with different audiences. Provide relevant and interesting content, actively engage with users, ask questions and offer feedback and insight on Twitter and Facebook. Establish your credibility, offer your expertise and make yourself reachable by participating in discussions on Reddit, Quora and LinkedIn.
Though many consider themselves to be great communicators, it’s always worth it to get an outside perspective. Since social media is often an outlet for sharing a variety of content, be strategic about your social-media profiles and always look for opportunities to build your brand and spread your message.
Make sure it’s RETWEETable!
— Rebecca Matias (@becca_matias) March 1, 2016
Thought leadership doesn’t come from companies, it comes from people. While it is good to give your thoughts and answers on happenings in your industry, you have to make sure that you are remaining credible. One of the quickest ways to prohibit your brand from becoming a thought leader is by producing content that isn’t credible. Choose a topic that you can speak to with authority and authenticity on the basis of your current and past experience. People will trust you, and your natural passion will shine through. Once you lose the trust of your audience, it is hard to gain that back.
Find a unique angle
Thought leaders are not brands that just copy information and stories and rebroadcast them. They are brands that create their own thoughts and storylines. They express their uniqueness and personality through their writing style. In order to be a thought leader, you have to be able to find interesting story angles and be up to speed with what is going on in your industry. The best pieces of content marketing are controversial, buck a trend, or even throw stones at giants. Take an angle or perspective that is fresh and unexpected and you’ll drive more readership.
Also, you have to think of the unanswered questions surrounding stories and news in your field of work and research and work to answer them. Figure out why people are coming to you for information, and continue to capitalize on that. By doing this, you begin to position yourself as a thought leader.
Be a mentor
Great thought leaders have strong ideas that live on through the people they have influenced and helped out. These informal teachers understand the importance of becoming a mentor and shaping the next generation of leaders in their field. They want to share their experiences, lessons and knowledge so that others will continue in their footsteps.
Do you remember how much of an impact your mentor had on your life? Your mentor influenced who you are today as an entrepreneur and how you run your business. You have vast experience and are full of lessons and a wealth of knowledge that you could share with others to make an impact on their life and your own.
Here are just some of the mentors on Huffingtonpost and Callbox who continue to draw their legacy and influence lives:
- Vivien Mei Reyes: There’s No Perfect Destination but Be Better Each Day
- Rom Agustin: Focus on the Possibilities
- Empowering Women in Marketing: Get to Know Rebecca Matias
Being a thought leader in your industry is not something that happens overnight.
Education is the key to establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field, which can be executed in a multitude of ways through different forms of content and media. How each individual establishes thought leadership depends on skill set, interests, and most of all, comfort level with specific subject matter.