Six Ways to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader
It can feel like millions of professionals just like you are clamoring to be seen as the industry leader in their field. While it feels overwhelming and increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd, there is still huge opportunity to be gained by positioning yourself as a thought leader – a leader that others turn to for guidance.
What is a Thought Leader?
A thought leader is someone whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential. Equally important, thought leaders regularly share their insights with their audience. Their influence can increase someone’s understanding of a topic, navigate others through confusing situations and even sway the dialogue around industry conversations.
Why Should You Care About Establishing Yourself as a Thought Leader?
Positioning yourself as a thought leader can boost your reputation and drive business to your law, real estate or finance firm. When people see that you are trustworthy and credible in a specific area, they will think of you first when there is a need.
While becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight, if done well and consistently, you will undoubtedly see a return on your investment.
How Do You Become a Thought Leader?
We’ve developed a guide to start.
Find Your Audience
You need to know who you are speaking to, and you should define this as much as you can. For example, quantity isn’t the only factor to consider. An audience of 50 with a deep interest in your perspective is more valuable than an audience of 500 who couldn’t care less. The goal is to develop a group of followers who care what you say. Another way to consider your audience is as an industry vertical – a subset of professionals whose business perspective aligns with what you want to share.
Find Your Channels
Once you understand who your audience is, make it easy for them to find your content. In today’s world, there are endless ways to share your content. This can include publishing articles, hosting or being interviewed on podcasts, sharing insights on social media, being quoted in a newspaper or magazine, writing blogs, giving webinars, etc. Make sure the channels you choose are where your audience finds their information. If those are mismatched, you will be communicating to the wrong audience. Also, keep in mind that it’s best to vary your channels versus sticking to one.
Have a Clear Message
Go beyond pointing out the obvious. Do the work for your audience. Tell them what their takeaway should be, what their next step should be, or how they should view an issue.
Don’t gatekeep information, either. It may seem obvious, but to be a thought leader, you must put your thoughts in front of people and make it easy for them to access your content. So don’t be shy. Tell them how you really feel. Don’t save the best insights for yourself – share them, and gain followers and trust in the process.
Be Unique and Genuine
In a business world full of jargon and sameness, stand apart by leaning into your individual tone and personality. To stand out from the crowd, you need to approach your topics in a unique way. You’re not just regurgitating information; you’re sharing your perspective on it and going beyond that to tell your audience what they should take away. Do you usually express humor? Use that. Do you like to explain things with metaphors? Find what fits you. Your audience will see through the façade if you’re trying to be someone you’re not. Be honest.
As we’ve stated, being a thought leader (and success) doesn’t happen overnight. Just like with anything in life, consistency is key. So, if you plan on being a thought leader by only sharing content once or twice per year, it’s likely results will be slow or nil. This requires work. Being a thought leader is a process, not a one-time item to check off your to-do list.
Also, engagement goes both ways. Interact with your peers, your following, and others in your virtual network. Small moments of connection, like replying to a comment, answering a question, or otherwise engaging online add up to a solid reputation.
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