What does the term thought leadership mean to you? To us, a thought leader is an individual who not only has thoughts, ideas and skills to drive business innovation, but someone who actually uses their thoughts, ideas and skills to drive business innovation. They’re the doers among a sea of thinkers, and are one of the biggest commodities in business today.
Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t as simple as switching on a light. If you already have all the ideas and feel like your opinion should be counting towards something, it’s possible to train yourself to become a thought leader. Here’s how.
Walk the walk
If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. In other words, you need to know what you’re doing and do it well. Thought leaders are experts in their chosen field and have the skills and know-how to inspire as well as lead those around them. Personal branding is everything in the thought leadership stakes, and it’s a great first step to achieving leadership status. You’ll notice that many successful opinion leaders are experts at self-branding and have made the most of social media channels to make this happen.
LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are real assets for personal branding and can be used by thought leaders to flaunt their business accomplishments, career goals, credentials and other achievements. Leaders who practice what they preach (the best ones always do) will likely link their social accounts to blog pages or LinkedIn posts in a strategic effort to lead by example.
This point is a little trickier because, truthfully, no one is indispensable in business. However, successful thought leaders are those who appear to be indispensable because they bring something different to the table. To borrow a quote from marketing guru Guy Kawasaki: “A thought leader is someone who creates something before people realise that they need it.”
Successful thought leaders educate and drive motivation. They give solutions to problems and answers to questions. Their unique approach to business obstacles gives the illusion that a company or client can’t do without them.
Communication is king
Communication in thought leadership refers to talking to your existing followers and networking with new ones. There’s no rule against having too many followers or people who want to hear more from you. In fact, thriving thought leaders are ones who continually reach out to new people through networking at events, participating in social forums and podcasts, and sharing their expertise whenever possible.
When was the last time you shared a valuable idea at work? If talking in front of a crowd (even your work colleagues) terrifies you, there are other ways to get your ideas heard. Writing your ideas down is the next best thing to sharing your ideas vocally, so get crafting.
Make sure you’re contributing to the company blog as much as possible. Aside from inspiring your colleagues and clients, publishing your ideas via the company blog is a great way to syndicate your thoughts with a reliable source. Remember that words are the currency of communication in this biz so start penning down your thoughts!
Read about Isentia’s series of thought leadership content to inspire your own words. Subscribe to our newsletter today.