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7 Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader

drawing idea pencil and light bulb concept outside the box as creative and leadership concept

Would you like to become a thought leader and reap the benefits that come with it? Thought leaders—like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—are people who have visions and strong degrees of expertise in subjects, topics, or issues. But more than that, they have publicly and relentlessly demonstrated their bona fides by taking a stance, having a perspective, and voicing their views and opinions. They’re leaders others want to meet, learn from and emulate.

Thought leadership takes time and effort, but the benefits are worth it. From building credibility with investors and customers, to shortening your sales cycle, to creating a legacy for the future, your efforts will not only help elevate your industry but catapult you to a new level of success and renown. Here are 7 steps to get started:

 

1. Be a Journalistic Resource

Getting quoted in news articles and publications is a great way to establish yourself as an expert or leader in a field. To be quoted, position yourself as a valuable source and make yourself known to reporters. Put yourself out there and be visible – engage in conversations with journalists, share your great ideas and insights. Help reporters choose you.

 

2. Seek Out Public Speaking Opportunities

Share your knowledge by participating in speaking opportunities at industry events and conferences and around your own community. It helps to showcase yourself as an expert in your field when you can offer timely and relevant insights and talks. And with time, and with one stellar presentation after another, others will start reaching out to you for speaking engagements and awards.

 

3. Don’t Just Amplify Content, Create Value

In other words - create valuable content - have an opinion and be passionate enough to articulate it and disseminate it by whatever medium comes naturally to you - writing, video, audio. While retweeting or sharing others' content in itself is de facto expressing an opinion as well, doing so without as much as adding a few words is lazy, utterly annoying and ultimately not sustainable. Fire up your laptop!

 

4. Roll Out the Articles

A Forbes Insights/Deloitte survey revealed that when pressed for time, CXOs are very discerning about what sources they use for business insights. When asked which source is the most preferred, the largest percentage of executives point to feature-length articles, followed by business books. So, roll out the grit - put out article content and get published regularly.

 

5. Build a Personal Brand

Your personal brand speaks for you, sometimes without even saying a word. Building your personal brand will give you credibility in your field. It will showcase you as an expert who can be trusted in your niche. And it can highlight you as the go-to expert, creating more business opportunities in the future. So, shine the light on yourself, the world is too busy to do so for you.

 

6. Build a Network…and Maintain it

It goes without saying that a professional network is valuable. You should be reaching out to people, networking daily, offering to help make a connection, share a little insight, before you ask for help. The power of who you know and learning what they know is extremely important; it gives you the tools and resources you need whenever you need them. And, once you have built a solid relationship, you have to maintain it. People are going to stop responding to you when you only message them when you need something, even if it's a business deal every time. 

 

7. You Have Ideas? Offer Them Up

You're the expert, so let your point of view be known—even if it’s outside the traditional school of thought. It's OK to create conflict. Not everyone will agree with you, but that’s not the point. The goal is to get people thinking and talking about what you have to say.

 

Is building thought leadership worth it? Absolutely! If you’re ready to become a thought leader but wonder where you’re going to find the time to take the necessary steps, we can help. Click the button below to speak with a PR professional from SKC. To learn more about thought leadership, follow us on LinkedIn.

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