Suppose you are passionate about a particular topic and have a deep interest and experience in it. In that case, you might just want to consider raising your brand as an influential thought leader in the industry. Establishing thought leadership can help you advance your career and attract new career opportunities. For a business owner, thought leadership can help raise your brand awareness, add value to your business, and win potential clients.
According to Edelman’s 2020 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, 88 per cent of decision-makers surveyed believe that thought leadership enhances their perception of an organisation. With 48 per cent of decision-makers spending an hour or more each week consuming thought leadership, you want to be putting out great content if your name or brand is on it.
Why build thought leadership?
In my years of working in the public relations field, I have worked with different thought leaders, namely Chief Executive Officers, academia, senior management, and business leaders who are sought after for their views in their respective fields. Thought leaders are always in demand, especially by media reporters who seek their ideas to validate or support their research, findings, or reports. At the same time, thought leaders raise the branding and the credibility of the organisation they represent and raise their own personal branding as authentic influencers.
If you are thinking of developing a personal branding for yourself as a thought leader, there are steps to reach that vision. Most importantly, just like building a business, it takes time to develop your thought leadership, so always start with small steps and continue to build momentum one media, one platform, one stage at a time.
- Identify your purpose
Similar to marketing, knowing why you want to be identified as a thought leader is essential. What is your purpose by answering your big WHY? Why do you want to be seen as a thought leader? What are your goals? What is your business vision? What issues or problems are we trying to solve? What do you want to achieve? Do you want to be offer help and advice for people in the industry to kick off their business or empower them to act on their ideas? Do you want recognition or be seen as a credible source of knowledge in the industry? Identify one purpose, and you will be able to target your next point better, and that is your audience and your message.
- Identify your audience and message.
This is the most fundamental. Just like when you want to build a business, start a social media marketing, public relations or advertising campaign, you need to identify your audience and message. If you say your audience is anyone and everyone who needs to know, that is targeting NO ONE. The more specific or targeted your audience is, the higher the chances of them seeing, reading, and engaging with you and your content. Your brand advocates are the ones that you build trust with. Identify a message that will truly serve their your audience’s needs. Focus on a topic that you are most familiar with and consider the different segments of your audience who may benefit from your sharings.
- Establish your presence on social media.
Today, social media is the lifeline for most of our business. It is the place where people connect, find new opportunities, and, increasingly, a platform where people start building thought leadership with their followers. One of the best platforms that I always advocate for my clients to consider is LinkedIn. Most people the perception that LinkedIn is only for job seekers. With thousands of professionals being on this platform, you have the opportunity to connect with them and get your messages across.
Learn about your connections, interests, networks, demographics, and engage with them by providing insights that will resonate with them. However, do not just stop at just adding them. Take time to engage with their posts and comment as well. Dedicate a time daily to read through their posts and provide valuable thoughts as an exchange to keep the conversation going and build relations.
To be recognised as a respected thought leader will need consistent work, commitment, and dedication to producing regular and visible content. Start by establishing these three steps, and you are on your way to being an insightful thought leader. Check out my next article on how to use social media to build your thought leadership.