What is a thought leader?
A thought leader is a recognised expert; a go-to person in a particular field. They are by definition individuals or organisations who are foremost in their industry. This perception of being a leader in your field is, in itself, a benefit of being a thought leader, as having a title of such prestige is likely to bring increased business opportunities and professional rewards to your door.
Why is it important to become one?
A thought leader will be rewarded greatly in accolades and commercial coverage, and will be respected as a standout, authoritative professional in their area of business. Additionally, a thought leader is influential in their field and can promote themself effectively and efficiently, which gives them great potential to expand their business and to develop lucrative new opportunities.
How can I become one?
Firstly, it is important to master your chosen field, to know and understand your target audience and to be clear about what your core message is. Once you’re sure that you have achieved these things, you can then undertake the following steps:
1) Self-publish regularly
Developing your presence, name and brand are hugely important. You can use blogs, social media, podcasts and other relevant avenues to publish your material and build authority in your field. Be creative and innovative, but use tried and tested channels also. As you become more established, you will likely get the opportunity to write in publications of greater prestige, in industry journals or magazines and for other authoritative blogs in your field.
2) Guest post in influential places
Guest posting in relevant, well-regarded places will add authority to your brand. Research where is an effective place to post, and look at all available avenues. When targeting websites or blogs, be sure to research the editors, other contributors and the target audience. Learn about who you’ll be reaching with your posts, and then decide whether or not this is an effective place for you to post.
Networking is integral. You cannot become a thought leader without communicating and networking with fellow professionals in your field. Becoming a thought leader also requires excellent communication, reputation and promotion, and effective networking is essential to developing these skills. Furthermore, the bigger your network is, the larger response there will be to your work. No thought leader ever becomes one by having all their information safe in a database or in their head. To be a thought leader you need to get your message, brand and expertise in the public domain. If you have a wealth of knowledge, then get it out there.
4) Constantly evaluate
Consistent review and evaluation of your work is paramount in any field. You may be having real success in one area, but without reviewing your own work, receiving feedback and assessing how your work has been received, how will you ever correct mistakes, tweak small details or discover where your biggest wins lie? And how will you know which of your work your audience is responding to best?
So, listen to feedback and take advice. No expert works (or learns) alone.
Being considered a thought leader will bring the rewards of recognition, opportunity and increased profits, but becoming one is not easy, and it shouldn’t be. It will require effort, dedication and work to become a thought leader, and it is not a term that’s given to people who employ short-term, quick win tactics. However, if you can become considered a thought leader in your field, then it is a title which will bring rich professional rewards. So keep going, keep working hard, and don’t give up!
Article written by Alex Belsey.