In the past few weeks several of my clients have asked me for advice on how to become a ‘thought leader’ which lead me to put thoughts to keyboard. The concept of thought leadership is in no way a new one but as is the case in so many ways the rise of social media channels has opened the opportunity of getting your thoughts to a wider audience in a way that in the past was never an option for the vast majority us. Now anyone can become a thought leader, and many are striving to do so as the benefits are numerous, especially from a business point of view.
So here are a few thoughts from me on thought leadership, go get your thinking cap on…
- What are you trying to achieve? Do you have a clear objective that you are working towards? If not then set some time aside initially to get clear on your goals as everything you do should be leading towards achieving these.
- Have a point of view. A boss of mine once told me to have an opinion and don’t be afraid to express it – even if it turns out to be wrong. This might sound strange but, in my experience sitting on the fence over decisions often means people don’t trust your judgement whereas having an opinion gives people trust. If you turn out to be wrong then be the first to recognise this and take responsibility for things. Holding your hand up and taking responsibility often gains respect in the long run.
- What is your USP? What makes you different from all the other thought leaders in your field – have a view on what makes you worth listening to compared to everyone else.
- Combine off and online – online and offline marketing go hand in hand and mixing up traditional events such as speaking events and traditional PR with your social media activity is a powerful combination, giving you something to talk about online rather than tweeting for the sake of it.
- Personal vs business – where are the boundaries? There is no right or wrong here, just think about what is the right balance for you.
- Don’t be afraid of being challenged – having an opinion means some people will agree with you and others won’t (I may even find this out in this article!)
- Data, data, data – true facts and data are invaluable in backing up a discussion – so think about where you can get good data from to back up your opinion.
- Be prepared to put the work in – like so many things you have to put the graft in to gain traction, especially as the market for thought leaders is getting increasingly crowded. You will need perseverance and time to gain an audience so get stuck in!
Perhaps obvious, perhaps not, if you have a point of view please leave a comment!