There are concrete methods to moving into the arena of thought leadership. These methods are not quick and begin with learning everything about your field, following major trends and thinking past the now to see the most effective ways that trends can be capitalized upon in the future. Although many professionals do this, few of them take the next step, the one that makes them a thought leader.
Thought leaders are not created by success alone, but by the thoughts they share. You can share insights through a blog or an email newsletter, but there are much more effective avenues. Everyone has a blog, and newsletters are often seen as low value spam. It is important to create a unique opportunity to spread your knowledge. Here are some of the most effective.
Organize a Seminar?
Organizing a seminar and inviting others in your field to give presentations around a particular subject is a good way to get industry professionals in the door to hear what you have to say. Don’t deliver the keynote yourself. If you are not yet known as a thought leader, bring in someone who is. Being on the same bill as a big name helps increase your visibility in the community. Another advantage to seminars is they can be delivered in an online setting connecting people across the globe.
When it is your turn to speak, be a story teller. Don’t recite facts and figures. Engage the audience with a real-life situation and the steps you took to resolve it. Pepper in some industry statistics to backup your claims and reasoning. Above all else, speak with passion and conviction. A good story will make you memorable and gather followers to your brand. These are the people that will start building your reputation as a thought leader in the community.
Make a Q&A Series
Thought leaders have an in-depth understanding of the forces at work in the industry and how to capitalize on them. Creating a question and answer series on YouTube can be a great way to make your thoughts accessible to the entire community, regardless of physical location.
Make your Q&A stand out by talking about edgy subjects that can make the viewer a bit uncomfortable because they question the default mode of operation. Openly suggest that the old way is not as efficient as what you propose and use concrete examples to show it. A series can be made in conjunction with a seminar or posted online and linked to through your various social networks.
Build a Community Think Tank
Actively recruiting members of your community to engage in a think tank can get all the brightest minds in the business community all in one place and talking to one another. As the organizer, you show the forward thinking that marks a thought leader. This puts you in a select group of trusted advisers taking a step to better the community. You create a real value that connects with both the logical and emotional parts needs of other leaders.
Don’t be afraid to disrupt the norm during think tank meetings. This is what is expected, and the reason think tanks provide value to the community. Some business leaders will have unique ideas of their own but they will look to you for acceptance or other ways to push the envelope. You must remain humble and realize that the deep convictions you hold from lessons you have learned are important, but there is still quite a lot you don’t know.
Building a think tank will credit you as orchestrator of an amazing community exchange where brilliant minds are cultivated and ideas that will reap tremendous benefits are sown.
Promote Yourself to Podcasters and Broadcasters
Actively seek out podcasters and local broadcasters who speak to a similar audience as your own. This could be a fringe connection. For example, if you are a divorce attorney working with wife’s rights, you could speak on a feminist podcast about common mistakes that women make before going to a lawyer in a divorce situation. This is valuable information for the listening audience as well as a chance to get your message to those outside of your traditional marketing scope. Of course, there could also be other divorce lawyers listening to the podcast for various reasons.
Podcasts and other broadcast media outlets allow you to demonstrate your deep knowledge of a subject area and talk about it passionately.
There is no timeline to becoming a thought leader. It can happen based on a mountain of experience or through a single defining moment. Maintaining the title, however, takes a concerted effort. The spoils that come with thought leadership are great. You can write your own ticket. Clients will come out of the woodwork. Once you get there, don’t forget what you did to achieve your status. Keep at it and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
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