The importance of being a thought leader in your industry continues to grow now more than ever, with a plethora of digital outlets available. Countless websites, blogs, various social media sites and the traditional/nontraditional press outlets create an expansive space for businesses to ignore and say nothing, say the wrong things and damage their reputation, or use strategically and build up their brand equity with thought leadership that shares their voice, message and vision. Thought leadership is a key element in branding, which results in more organic traffic and increases the credibility of your business. When you deliver concrete, educational and useful information and circulate it in the right places, people read it and learn to trust your company as a thought leader in the industry. Then they will come to you and invest in your product and services because of the foundation of trust you’ve built.
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” –John Maxwell
How does one become a thought leader?
- Remove the concern of self-promotion. You’re probably already doing a bit of self-promotion without realizing it, so continue doing so, but in a bolder, more direct way. Careful to not sound arrogant, just confident and knowledgeable.
- Be patient. At the beginning, remember that you’re just starting to deliver and they’re just starting to read your material. Like in any other area of life, relationships built on trust take time to grow.
- Realize your level of experience and speak to the audience who is actually willing to listen. Ex: If you are a small startup, do not expect to deliver Apple-level CEO content. Be honest with yourself and your readers – that being said, if your content is not strong, don’t post it as a thought leadership piece.
- Ask yourself if you have truly created something worth trusting and worth sharing. The passion and confidence will shine through the piece. Ex: You’re convinced that the new software your company designed will change the industry and you’re very proud of it. Call your mom, your best friend from college and mention it to your neighbor the next time you see him in the yard – listen to yourself and mimic that voice (professionally) later when writing thought leadership content.
- NEVER stop learning. As you grow in your field of expertise, it’s wise to learn from others as well. Not only will you gain knowledge about other products and services in your field, but also note their delivery and the presentations that grabbed your attention. Apply those to your delivery.
- Start creating alliances. Smart people tend to converse with other smart people. The expression, “Birds of a feather flock together,” rings true here. Let people know who those alliances are by combining efforts, events or possible resources.
- Apply for awards. Awards show credibility – it’s as simple as that.
- Think of LinkedIn as your favorite outlet. Facebook and Twitter are useful outlets and typically reach the masses, but LinkedIn is known for being a natural go-to for connecting with professionals and professional thought leadership material. Not only is LinkedIn good for posting strong content, but it’s also a place where people can easily see credibility from those alliances you made and support from customers and potential customers.
Considering the above will start you off to becoming a thought leader in your industry, and keep these three components front and center: Experience, Credentials and Passion. If you can stay consistent in delivering each of these components within each of your thought leadership efforts, with time and consistency, you will reign as the go-to resource for advice and information that will lead to increased sales and profits. For more tips on creating content that gains readership, look here. Please share your comments on thought leadership best practices for those wanting to share their words of wisdom! Keep up with the latest B2B marketing tips and trends by following us on Twitter and Facebook.