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6 Simple Strategies to Truly Master Thought Leadership

In this era of social media, the term ‘thought leadership’ has been thrown about so much that it is often hard to put a finger on what exactly it means. However, true thought leadership is about people who are industry experts and share their insights and knowledge freely with the aim of improving, educating or adding value in some way to their fields.

Thought leadership comes with lots of benefits since it is an extension of personal branding, and it is therefore understandable that so many people aspire to become thought leaders. There is a right and wrong way to approach thought leadership. We discuss how to do it the right way.

Be an Effective Leader

Before you consider becoming a thought leader, first work on your leadership skills. You don’t want to be all hat and no cattle, do you? Polish your leadership skills wherever you are whether it is at your place of work or in your company. As your influence grows within your immediate circles, it will become easier to expand the circle of influence on your path to becoming a true thought leader in your industry.

Leaders are recognized wherever they are, and the more you grow as a leader in your field, the easier it will be for you to morph into thought leadership as a natural result of your dedication to the call of leadership.

Stick to Your Area of Expertise

Don’t try to express an opinion about everything topical that is happening around you. Thought leadership is primarily about expertise, and you cannot be an expert on everything. Narrow your focus to a niche within the industry and hone your craft in that area.

When you focus your efforts to mastering a niche, you become an authority figure in that field and your opinions as well as insights become valuable to those who need them.

The more you share your knowledge and expertise in your chosen niche, the more you become the go-to person when people need someone they can reach out to in that niche. As your reputation grows, so will the value attached to what you share.

The key message is that you should avoid the temptation of commenting about everything from the weekend soccer matches, to President Donald Trump’s legal issues and even the latest diet fads. Stick to your lane and be known for your expertise in that area.

Look Beyond Your Business Agenda

If you own a business, there is a strong temptation to focus your thought leadership efforts on promoting your business and winning over prospective clients. This is a wrong move to make, because you will be perceived as someone who is just out to make a sale.

As a thought leader, broaden your outlook and seek to improve the industry in which you are interested. Give generously and as your name becomes synonymous with expertise in your area, prospects will naturally seek you out when they need the goods or services that you offer.

The sale shouldn’t be the driver of your thought leadership efforts. Ironically, the more you focus on informing and sharing without a motive of selling, the more you will increase your chances of building brand loyalty and growing your client base.

Be a Life-Long Learner

Thought leaders are expected to share insights that can’t be found elsewhere. This is because a true thought leader analyses the past, weighs the present and projects far into the future to come up with opinions that are anchored in reality.

Given that every industry is witnessing change at a rate that has never been seen before, it is incumbent upon someone aspiring to be a thought leader to learn on an ongoing basis so that they can remain relevant in their fields and even provide guidance to those who look up to them.

Being a life-long learner calls for getting access to the latest innovations by reading journals, research reports, authority publications in your field as well as learning from other leaders in that niche. The new information that you acquire on an ongoing basis can serve as the springboard upon which you base the opinions and views that you share with your followers or those who look up to you for leadership in your field.

Get Published Frequently

You aren’t going to exercise your thought leadership in a vacuum. Thought leaders share their insights frequently, which is why they become known as authorities in their fields. You too have to get published frequently in order to cement your position as a thought leader.

A good place to start is social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter which are known to cater to professional-minded demographics. You can share your views on these platforms as well as on your blog. Find ways to promote that content as widely as possible, and engage with your audience as extensively as possible as you build relationships with that target audience.

A leader without a following isn’t exactly a leader! In-person networking events also give you an opportunity to share your expertise, so include them in your plan as you build your thought leadership reputation.

Be a Good Listener

Polish up on your listening skills as you climb the ladder to thought leadership. Listening is important because it will help you to know the specific challenges that your industry or niche is struggling with so that you can come up with suggestions that can be of help in addressing those problems. When you offer insights on challenges that are relatable to your target audience, your value rises and they will keep seeking you out each time they have issues that they need help with.

Being a good listener also helps you to sniff out upcoming trends even before they become apparent. Thought leadership entails helping people to peek into the future, and being able to detect trends before they are established allows you to play that role of ‘predicting’ what lies ahead for your niche. When your predictions come true, your reputation is strengthened.

While thought leadership in and of itself shouldn’t be looked at as part of your SEO strategy, it can be of help because people will share and backlink to your content if it shares valuable data, insights and solutions. Becoming a thought leader is a process, not a one-off event. Start the journey today and expect to reap the rewards in due course.