Becoming a Thought Leader
“Thought leader” is business jargon for an entity that is recognized for having innovative ideas. (Source:Wikipedia)
There are many benefits to becoming a thought leader. This can range from being interviewed by the local newspaper when a story requires an expert on your topic of expertise (great for brand exposure) to building trust with those who would refer you business based on your perceived know-how.
How do you become a thought leader in your industry? It used to be that you would go write a book or a newspaper column on the subject, or host a radio show on the topic. Those are still powerful ways to be seen as a thought leader, but they can require so much effort that many business owners never find the time. The beauty of the digital age is that you can start today on the journey to becoming a thought leader and end up with opportunities knocking on your virtual door sooner than you think.
The first step to becoming a thought leader is to become a content curator. Definition from the Convince & Convert blog:
“Content curation is the art and science of finding and sharing quality content on a specific topic. Curation helps you build an audience. You then have a larger group of people with whom to share your own content, and who can spread the word.”
In order to do this, begin taking in specific information surrounding your topic. We live in a world of information overload, so you’ll need to find an efficient system to cut out the noise and hone in on the content that is being produced that relates to your industry. One of the best ways that I have found to do this is to seek out and subscribe to relevant RSS feeds. RSS feeds are used for blogs, article databases, and many other sources of information that is updated frequently. For example, if you area chef, you would find it useful to subscribe to some recipe feeds from top chefs around the world. (RSS feeds are missing from many blogs, so don’t be surprised if your favourite chef has a website without the RSS feed. Luckily Google Reader has developed a way to track changes on a page even if it doesn’t have a feed).
Google Reader is a free program that allows you to subscribe to feeds across the web. When you sit down at your computer in the morning you can open it up and instantly read all the headlines of what’s new on the websites you follow. It’s like a digital newspaper created for you based on your interests, delivered right to your door.
The next step is to take what you’ve read and turn it into content that your target audience would find valuable. Remember, a thought leader is someone who is seen as innovative and doesn’t just regurgitate information that is already online somewhere. He/She takes that information and adds his/her own thoughts, experience, personality, perspective. Here are several ideas of how to share your expertise once you’ve filled up on good information yourself:
- Write a blog post (you may want to summarize a concept in your own words, or create a “top 5” list for example) either on your own blog or as a guest blogger for another blog that has a similar target audience and would be happy to host your article
- Create a video
- Create a podcast
- Share a link to the article/video you’ve found with a comment about why you think it’s important for people to read/watch it.
- If you use Linkedin you can subscribe to the ‘Questions’ feed in your topic of expertise and answer any questions that you can.
- If you use Facebook as a business you can share articles/videos that you’ve written or found that are relevant, as well as “Like” other complimentary businesses (think referral sources) and comment on their posts to build relationships and show expertise.
- If you use Twitter you can search particular keywords that have been mentioned in tweets recently and save your search. This way every time you login you can check what conversations are being had in your industry and join the conversation (which your followers will sometimes notice and begin to see that you’re an expert on that particular topic)
And remember, your target audience is also dealing from information overload, so the more you can simplify things for them by sharing quality content, the better. Here are five success tips for content curation by author of the Now Revolution, Jay Baer.
Questions? Additions to the list? Other ideas? Use the comment section below! I’d love to hear from you.