So, you want to be a thought leader. Good for you. Now, where should you start?
Many aspiring thought leaders began with one of these six strategies proven to get results. Follow their lead to burnish your personal and corporate thought leadership credentials.
1. Assign a Thought Leader to Each Subject
First, a strategy for company-wide thought leadership campaigns: avoid asking too few to do too much. An organization of any significant size has expertise enough to designate a different leader for each subject matter domain. More cumbersome to manage, perhaps, but ideal for cultivating credibility beyond reproach.
2. Be More Visible Online
Your thought leadership strategy simply is not going to succeed if your brand isn’t highly visible online. Fortunately, online visibility is easier to achieve than you’d imagine — and it doesn’t require a massive investment. Create a business profile on as many high-value domains as you can, including Crunchbase and Inc., similar to this one set up for InsureOne.
Optimize properties you control directly, as well, such as LinkedIn and Medium — using targeted keyphrases and sticking to an aggressive publishing schedule.
3. Engage in Conversation, Not One-Sided Pontificating
Yes, you’re the expert, but that doesn’t give you license to be a jerk. Don’t ever give into the temptation to lord your expertise over others; doing so reflects poorly on your own work and your employer’s. It’s a one-way ticket to irrelevance.
4. Be Topical Without Pandering or Sensationalism
Leave the breathless headlines to the clickbait factories that trade in such trivia. You’re a serious purveyor of ideas and insight, not an amoral chaser of superficial engagement. Keep your thought leadership content focused on what’s relevant to audiences now without putting your good name on something you’d rather not.
5. Always Know Who You’re Speaking to
Those new to the world of thought leadership frequently assume that the domain is too refined or abstract for conversion-oriented tactics like granular buyer personas and targeted calls to action. But that’s actually not the case, at least not on the first point. Thought leaders always know who they’re speaking to and why, because at the end of the day they know why they’re speaking — to lay the groundwork for an eventual sale.
6. Be Willing to Scratch a Few Backs
Like or it not, thought leadership is really networking by another name. That means thought leaders and those supporting them must be willing to do some old-fashioned gladhanding. Nothing they’ll feel dirty about afterward, mind you: more on the order of a reciprocal guest posting arrangement or a complimentary product demonstration to whet the appetite.
Are You a Leader or a Follower?
Sure, you can be both. But in the rarefied reaches of elite thought leadership, you’d rather be the former.
You can be. These six tactics work for real, live thought leaders working in your industry, right now, today. You probably know a few. And if you do, you know enough to know that there’s no good reason why you couldn’t (and shouldn’t) join their ranks sooner than later.
It’s time to step up.