Thought leaders are made, not born. However, no one ever became a thought leader by declaring themselves one. Other people recognized the fact that they were saying or doing something new and recognized them as experts in their field of interest. Being a thought leader requires more than putting up social media or blog posts. You will be required to prove your worth to knowledgeable people in your field through your education, experience and impact.
Here are 5 tips for establishing yourself as a thought leader:
- Carve your niche
In this age of social media and other digital platforms, it is easier for people to share their opinions on different subjects and get recognition for it. Does this mean everyone recording a video of themselves to air their views about anything is a thought leader? Absolutely not.
It would be much easier for you to distinguish yourself if you create your own niche. Research on your industry. What are the not-so-popular facts about your industry? What do you have the most knowledge and experience about? What challenges did you face while building your career?
If you begin this way, there is no doubt that you know what you are talking about since it’s all stuff you are familiar with. People will declare you a leader if the information you are giving is accurate or they can relate to your experiences. Gradually, your reputation as a thought leader would be established and you can now go ahead to expand your niche.
- Develop your unique voice
Sharing knowledge or information is like storytelling. People have short attention spans and the web is teeming with content. You need to share your knowledge and experience in a captivating way if you want them to listen to you. To do this, you must find what your voice is and use it to your advantage.
Your unique voice does not literally translate to your speaking voice. It could be anything; a signature delivery style, using pictures or info graphics to deliver your message, having a payoff, anything. When looking for your unique voice, try to focus on something that comes naturally to you; something inventive and well, unique.
- Understand trends in your industry
Your primary goal as a thought leader should be impact. Here you are, full to bursting with so much knowledge and experience. You need to pass that on as much as you can. This is why you need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. The best way to do this is by exploring what connects you with the audience; your industry or field of expertise. This way, you can get insights on the current happenings in the industry and how it affects your audience. This is a sure-fire way to establish yourself as a thought leader.
Take for instance that you aim to be a thought leader in the legal space; you should stay up-to-date with new laws, reviews of existing laws and other important information that your target audience would be interested in. Creating content around these happenings is a great way to get them to look up to you as a thought leader in the industry.
- Identify your communication channels
Communication is a crucial aspect of thought leadership; your message needs to get to your audience somehow. To understand the best channels to use, you should consider two things; the message and the audience. How?
You need to communicate your message in a captivating way. You need to also know the people you are trying to communicate with. If you are trying to communicate using an article or a publication, putting it on Instagram or Twitter is a bad move. Why?
Unless it is a very short article, the word limit won’t let you put it on Twitter. Instagramers on the other hand, are mostly there for the pictures and videos; and highly unlikely to read your publication. However, if you were to put the article on LinkedIn or Medium, you will get more engagement. You would also get more engagement if you post the link to the publication with a catchy image on Twitter and Instagram. You should know the platforms where your audience can mostly be found and try to tweak your content to fit those platforms without altering the quality.
If you follow the tips above religiously and try to be as inventive as you can with your content, your reputation as a credible thought leader will soon be established. Once your audience trusts you to put out reliable information, they will start sharing your content on their own pages. You should now take things a step further by connecting with other thought leaders, online and offline. Speaking at events, mentoring people in your field and working with social influencers are ways to establish yourself as a thought leader.
Being a thought leader is a journey, not a destination; you cannot rest on your oars. You need to stay consistent and continue seeking knowledge so you can always be at the top of your game.
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