There is no easy or right way to become a thought leader. There is no school you can go to or a seminar you can attend that will give you the experience or paperwork you need to be considered a thought leader. In fact, only other people can bestow this honor upon you, and to reach that distinction, you have to put in the time and effort.
Becoming a thought leader is a long process and is full of barriers. In essence, being a thought leader means that you innovate and implement new ideas in your industry. Thought leaders are well respected, popular, and have the ability to make real changes and develop real value in their field. Both customers and workers within their respective industry revere thought leaders.
If you’re interested in becoming a thought leader and are determined to put in the work and effort, below are some ways to accomplish that goal.
Narrow Your Field of Expertise
No doubt, you are smart and a quick learner. You know lots of things, but you are not an expert in everything. Find a niche that you are passionate and knowledgeable about and develop your ideas from that.
Develop Your Personal Brand
This is where you will show off your talents and really begin to shine. Alter your social media profiles so that they reflect your profession and your field of expertise. Start a blog, either on your own or through your company’s website, and start creating content. Write in a voice that is unique to you.
Remember, this is your personal brand and your knowledge about a field, write about it the way you would talk about it. When your passion comes through, it will inspire others to be just as passionate about the topic as you are and set you up to be a thought leader.
Learn from Others
Once you’ve started down this road of becoming a thought leader, you’ll need to reach out to others to help you along the way. Find influencers and mentors who have achieved success. They don’t necessarily have to be in the exact same field as you are (although that would be beneficial), but they have to be willing to work with you. Learn how they became successful and popular and incorporate those ideas and tactics into your plan for success.
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Finding ways to get your message to the world is incredibly important when establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Your information also needs to be credible and reliable, otherwise audiences will have no reason to read your writing. Your blog should always be the first place you publish to, with new information appearing at least once a week, but then you’ll want to branch out and get published in other places.
These places can include other blogs, publications within your industry, local newspapers—wherever. Just get your information out there. The more you can share your expertise, the more chances you’ll have of establishing your brand.
Writing your own blogs and other articles seem like a great opportunity to promote you and your business. While some self-promotion is okay, it’s easy to overdo it. Establishing yourself as a thought leader doesn’t mean only talking about yourself and your business. It’s about sharing new concepts and ideas. If you do this well, the people will figure out who you are and what business you’re in without having to beat them over the head with self-promotion.
Network, Network, Network
No one gains success isolated on an island. Being involved with social media and other online platforms is helpful, but you’ll also need to put yourself out there in the real world. Attend conferences and develop and participate in speaking engagements. The more people you can reach and interact with, the better suited you’ll be to establish yourself as an expert.
Offer Something Different
Becoming a thought leader means going out on a limb and taking a chance. There is no doubt tons of information about your industry already exists in the world, and while some of it is tried and true, to establish yourself as a leader, find something different to talk about.
Are there new innovative developments that could be successful but haven’t taken off yet? Check them out. See if they are viable, and if they are, figure out how to make them work. Be open and willing to explore all possibilities, no matter how crazy they may seem at the time.
Becoming a thought leader takes time and dedication. It involves consistency and perseverance. If hard work is something that intimidates you or if new ideas make you cringe because “that’s not the way it’s always been done,” this might not be the best path for you to take. Anyone can become a thought leader in their industry, but they have to put in the work and time to get there.