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There was once a point in time where being published was a rigorous and exclusive process held only for the elites within a society. In today’s day and age nearly anyone with something to say and an internet connection can reach a broad audience to influence the way they think and act.
Can Anyone Become a Thought Leader?
The first step in answering this question is to define the term. According to Forbes, “A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.” Thought leaders by this definition are doing more than just producing content. They have established credibility amongst their peers and therefore inspire others to join in their efforts.
Why Become A Thought Leader?
The benefits of thought leadership go far beyond the vanity aspects of seeing your name in a well-known publication. “Ultimately, Thought leadership, is one of the outcomes of a solid Content Strategy. And content is bigger than marketing”. Thought leadership is a longer play for conversions, but the benefits of providing actionable value for your audience is a key factor in turning a one time customer into a lifetime customer. The benefits of thought leadership go far beyond the vanity aspects of seeing your name in a well-known publication.
How Do I Become a Thought Leader?
As previously mentioned, nearly anyone can reach an audience and blast out opinions and findings into the abyss that is the internet. Below are 3 actionable tips that will take someone from “person with an opinion” to “person with influence”.
Pick a thought to lead. This may sound obvious, but too many people have failed at becoming a thought leader by trying to be an expert at too many things. Find what topic you are MOST interested in and learn everything you can about it. The more you learn, the more opinions and new ideas you can form to then better influence those around you and the more likely it is that your followers will be coming to you for advice.
Be Human. Posers weren’t cool in high school and they most certainly are not cool when it comes to thought leadership. According to Matt Suitewood, “When you try to be something you are not or say things you don’t believe in, trust me, the audience will know it. Thought leadership can only be achieved with authenticity. Period”. The beauty of thought leadership is that you are promoting your own thoughts and ideas and there is no “ truly correct” way to be yourself.
Be Social. Find the social channel where you know your audience lives and own your space within it. Focus on posting consistently high-quality content over quantity. 93% of respondents to an AMCF study said that “high-quality thought leadership content improves their opinion of that consulting firm — and 94% said poor content lowers their opinion of the firm.”
At the end of the day, you know the most about yourself and the value you can provide on a topic. Sharing that knowledge with others allows you to position yourself as the expert to not just your colleagues but also to potential customers that can provide you with opportunities to extend your services.