Becoming an Industry Thought Leader

"Thought leadership" is a term used regularly in modern business, but it’s also easily dismissed as another marketing buzzphrase that’s best ignored.

As a leader within your business, you know how important it is to be the person who can inspire, engage, and lead by example. So, why not extend that beyond the four walls of your organisation?

Like it or not, you’re one of the best marketing tools the business has, and if you’re prepared to work on becoming a thought leader within your industry, you’ll play a key role in driving new leads and raising the profile of the organisation.

Here’s how you can do just that.

Work on your personal brand

Ah - another buzzphrase!

However, if you’re active on social networking platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, you’re already building your own personal brand.

Stripped back, this is simply the process of building a reputation online. To build a good reputation, and one which helps establish you as a thought leader, you’ll need to be open, honest, and entirely yourself. And therein lies the beauty of the personal brand: it’s you!

There’s no need to put on a show or pretend you’re someone else; working on your personal brand should be the most natural thing you do online.

Be yourself.

Start blogging - regularly

One of the most commonly used tools to establish thought leadership is blogging.

Thankfully, this is something we can all do - even if writing isn’t your strong point. Blogs are intended to be thought pieces - they don’t need to be literary works of art - which means you can spend a very productive hour or so each week simply writing down a few thoughts on a burning topic within your industry.

There are other ways to spread your opinion online, such as podcasting and publishing blogs on other websites; but if that all feels like a bit too much at the moment, writing a 500 word piece each week is a fabulous start and you’ll be surprised by how quickly it becomes a habit you enjoy.

Network (digitally and in-person)

Networking remains one of the most important ways to demonstrate that you’re a thought leader. Just make sure you avoid falling into the trap of doing so entirely online.

Tools like LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic for connecting with people remotely, but nothing quite beats walking into a room full of people and shaking a few hands.

The more you network, the more you’ll come across other thought leaders, too; and that gives you the chance to stay humble and learn from others.

Don’t be afraid to say something controversial (within reason)

Some of the most prominent thought leaders are also the most contentious.

That doesn’t mean you should trawl the internet and local networking groups making a nuisance of yourself and saying the most controversial things possible, but it does mean you can be a little braver with expressing your views when the time is right.

If something has happened within the industry with which you vehemently disagree, or if there’s been a political decision made that absolutely goes against everything your business stands for - talk about it. Tell the world how it has made you feel (without defaming others or being threatening, of course!).

The more open and honest you are about the controversial areas within your industry, the more you’ll get noticed - for the right reasons!

Conclusion

Thought leadership will position both you and your company as a trusted source of genuinely useful information, and in a world where hard-and-fast sales tactics are starting to look rather old-fashioned, that’ll put you way ahead of the competition.