Five strategies for becoming a thought leader in your industry

Thought leadership has transformed the way businesses across a wide range of industries communicate, helping leaders from all walks of life have their say and share their expertise.

However, the unfortunate truth is that only a small proportion of those with the label of ‘thought leader’ are actually doing it well. Thought leadership is about far more than a few LinkedIn posts: it’s about becoming a consistent, valuable source of information for your industry.

So if you’re ready to provide some truly useful guidance to your industry and potential clients, these five strategies should set you in the right direction.

1. Ask: “what do you do well”?

Then narrow that down to what you can have an opinion on, based on your experience, expertise, and what you consider best practice in your area. Identify why this matters to others and why they would care.

If what you are sharing and standing for isn’t valuable or sought after by others, then you aren’t leading anyone. Anyone can have an opinion or thinks they know something that others don’t, but if it doesn’t answer common questions, it’s basically a self-aggrandizing soapbox.

2. Lead before you speak

Before you can become well-known as a thought leader, you need to already be a leader. There’s no point sharing your view on business success without having achieved business success yourself. If you haven’t already helped others to achieve success in real life, how can you hope to do the same through thought leadership?

3. Make sure you have credible proof points

You need to have a reputation that matches your position, so people know you can be trusted. Try proving your expertise through case studies, reputable endorsements, research showing trends that match your statements, well-known connections, or your years of experience.

4. Choose the right avenues to share your message

Where are the watering holes where your key stakeholders congregate and go to for credible information? Be there.

5. Be generous

If you are stingy in the quality and quantity of advice and insights that you share, people will notice. As Zig Ziglar explained: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

There is a misconception that you can’t give much information away because people will no longer need to pay for your expertise. The truth is, when people see value in your approach, they will still want you to apply it to them. It’s not like you can wrap up all your many years of experience in a few pieces of content.

There’s a big difference between simply labelling yourself as a thought leader and actually being a thought leader, but if you can get it right, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful and lucrative communication channel for your business. With these five strategies in place, there’s no reason you can’t become the leading voice in your chosen field.

Phoebe Netto, founder of Pure Public Relations, specialising in PR for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and not-for-profits (NFPs)

Phoebe Netto is the founder of Pure Public Relations, a PR firm that focuses on outcomes, not output – it’s pure and simple. For over ten years, Pure Public Relations has been bringing big business experience to SMEs and not-for-profits.

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