With more personal and company brands crowding the online and offline channels with similar marketing strategies, standing out can be challenging. However, thought leadership has been a proven strategy for rising above others in your field because it positions you as knowing more, which is often equated to greater trust and confidence that you can also provide a product or service that does more than the competition. By showing your audience that you are the one with the disruptive ideas, new insights, and incredible innovation in available solutions, you will be able to leverage this thought leadership to propel your brand above all others.
Sounds great, but how do you become a thought leader in the first place? There are eight ways to build this ladder to leadership:
- Develop and define your brand. To gain interest and win over fans, you’ll need to paint them a picture of who you, what you represent in terms of value and beliefs, and what personality traits set you apart from others. Having this profile of a personal brand gives your audience something to relate to and connect with. You’ll nee to have an authoritative, yet informative, brand voice to build credibility. Show what your personal brand looks like with this voice and you’ll be on your way to thought leadership status.
- Select your broadcast channels. You’ll need to know where to put your soapbox to share what you know. Online is a must but even then you’ll need to pick your spots by identifying where your target audience hangs out. This will take some time to figure out through research and observation, but the investment will be worth it because you’ll be able to get in front of the right people that are interested in what you have to say. Don’t forego offline channels because this may be a way to gain leverage over the competition that thinks any traditional channel is no longer worth it. Remember that offline channels include speaking engagements at conferences and networking events where you could create more instant connections and gain faster trust through the face-to-face contact.
- Create a portfolio of success. Regularly update any kudos you have garnered in the form of awards, recognition, experience, and speaking engagements as these announcements build the track record that illustrates your leadership position. Should about these accolades on your social media profiles, blog, and website, linking everything together to make sure no one in your audience will miss these accomplishments. When you want to establish thought leadership, bragging is a must.
- Maintain a steady stream of content. Keep hitting your audience with relevant content. This regular injection of valuable advice that they can’t find elsewhere creates the credibility you need to pull ahead of the pack. If you don’t have time to handle the amount of content necessary for your blog and other communication channels, consider a freelancer that can be your voice and take on the work. You can create the editorial calendar for them with main points so you ensure they stay on point with what you want to share. Use tools like Buffer, WordPress, and Hootsuite to schedule your content to further maximize your productivity.
- Use new communication mediums. This includes the growing movement toward livestream video on sites like Facebook and Instagram. You’ll be able to get in front of your audience and leverage your personality to further that personal brand and share your insights. More audience members across all fields are enjoying this way to get their information. Plus, you can repackage the livestream videos for use later on across various channels to reach people that may have missed the original video feed. Also, consider using text messaging to share content with your existing contacts as a way to personally reach out to your audience individually with tips that they could put to work immediately.
- Mentor others and you’ll build an even larger following. You’ll be able to add another title and set of capabilities to your personal brand plus work directly with those in your field. This will increase your network of contacts for more ways to get your name out there and introduce new channels where you can publish your thought leadership. Plus, you’ll learn even more about your industry or niche through this direct work to further build out what you know and can share with others.
- Partner with other influencers. It’s all in who you know so working on that network you have in place is a great way to increase your leadership perception with others. Others in your industry that stand out to your audience can help you get noticed and create a mutually beneficial environment. It doesn’t necessarily have to be competitive but can work in your favor and that of the influencer who are both sharing contacts and leveraging a larger pool of information for all constituencies. You’ll be able to find these influencers at industry events and online so you can introduce yourself and begin working together.
- Pick a niche topic area and dominate it. While you are part of a larger industry, it most likely contains numerous niche areas that have a significant audience that provides enough opportunity to sustain your business. These niche audiences have their own unique problems but may not have any significant solutions providers. This is where you could make a tremendous difference in generating that thought leadership status. You’ll waste too much time in those areas that already have plenty to cover it. By starting with those underserved areas, you will win position that you can later on turn into making a mark in the overall industry.
Don’t delay in starting on these thought leadership strategies because there are others all around you already working on them. The faster you start, the more traction you’ll get.