Becoming a thought leader
Thought leadership is a vital part of any effective communications campaign and can help you stand out from the crowd, cut through the noise, and cement your position as an authoritative voice in your industry. Being a thought leader means that you are not just taking part in conversations but actively setting the agenda and driving important discussions on topics that matter most to you, your business, peers, and stakeholders.
Becoming a go-to expert has many advantages. Not only does it elevate your profile and enhance your credibility, but it also paves the way for business opportunities and valuable connections to flourish. So, what steps can you take to become a thought leader?
Define your brand
You have already developed a brand identity for your organisation (and if you haven’t, give us a call!) As a spokesperson, anything you say should align with the key messaging and values of your company, but it is also important to cultivate your personal brand and let your unique style and distinctive voice shine through. Remember to keep it real and authentic – this will make you more relatable, building trust and a following.
Decide what you want to say
Think about what you bring to the table in your field – the valuable experience, skills, knowledge and fresh ideas – and how best to showcase that in a way that engages people. You can speak with the greatest confidence and passion on a topic that you know and care about. What audiences do you want to target and how can you make what you say interesting for them? What are the best avenues to reach them and grow your community?
Create a strong plan
Thought leadership covers various formats, from roundtables and speaking at conferences to participating in media opportunities. However, arguably the most effective way is via written content (published on your website, as a LinkedIn blog or in an external outlet). Here, it pays to craft a well-considered content plan. This should be flexible enough to remain current and timely but have a strong underlying strategy. Tailor it to ensure that it’s relevant to your audience.
What problems are you solving?
People are more likely to connect with your content if you make it applicable to them – helping to solve common challenges they might face, deciphering trends, offering advice, and sharing useful examples or insights. A great thought leader considers not just how to propel their business forward but also how to add value and influence the evolution of their industry. It’s a two-way street.
Stay away from corporate jargon, anything generic or just recounting facts. Transform everything into a story with a purpose, featuring anecdotes, making it personable and approachable by linking it back to your own experiences and to those you are addressing. Where possible back up what you say with research and translate complex market data into easily digestible formats (e.g., infographics or short video clips). The way we consume information has changed, so make it concise, to the point, and customised to whatever platform you are using.
Keep it consistent
An occasional blog is not sufficient to become a thought leader or keep your audiences engaged. That’s where your plan comes in! It’s imperative to keep up a steady flow of high-quality content to inspire dialogue and be a reliable source of insights for your supporters who may be expecting to hear your take on whatever is happening in the market.
Harness social media
Utilising the power of social media is crucial for communicating in an increasingly digital world where it’s easier than ever to cultivate relationships and reach more people through online channels. Also, tech and data are your friends, allowing you to track engagement rates, feedback, mentions and more to see how well your content is landing and make tweaks to your approach if needed.
Finally, be patient. It takes time and commitment to establish yourself as a thought leader but when you get there, the results are worth it.