5 Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader
And a secret 6th you’ll get at the end.
Before we get into our Thought Leadership list, you should know that you’re at the beginning stages of a great investment in yourself.
Publishing Thought Leadership content is free on platforms like LinkedIn, so the ROI will be positive if what you contribute is thoughtful, critical, compelling, enlightening, inspiring, actionable and helpful.
In this way, the thought leadership economy is just like any other economy: if it’s worth buying, people will buy it.
Step 1: Accumulation
Start writing your thoughts down, ideally all in one place like a journal or a Google doc. They could be fully fleshed out concepts or idea fragments. It doesn’t matter. Also, a novel’s as good as a list of bullets. And don’t worry if it wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. Just make sure you get it.
Review what you wrote down over the last while every few days. You’ll see what you’ve written from different perspectives depending on what you’ve been doing and what’s been happening around you. These new points of view may help you refine or combine ideas.
Eventually, you’ll see themes appear, which will form your Sphere of Thought Leadership: the kinds of conversations subscribers can expect you to lead, start or participate in. Your sphere will be unique to your interests and passions.
Step 2: Validation
Pick a topic from your notes and dig into it; go into the darkest corners of the internet if you have to.
There’s two benefits here: One is the opportunity to learn more about the topic. The other is to cover your back side; if you can find a way to discredit you, so can someone else. Thought Leadership is all about credibility.
Step 3: Exposition
Make your argument.
If you think you lack the ability or know you lack the time, get a professional writer to help you.
Step 4: Publication
Choose the mediums/channel to put your work. This will depend strongly on your Thought Leadership goals. If you’re a business owner, you might want it on your company blog. If you’re an employee, you might want it on your own LinkedIn.
Wherever you publish should be a place where people you care about are keen to go. It makes no sense to be where your customers aren’t.
Step 5: Amplification
Have social media channels set up to share your published content. As with where to publish, your social feeds should be on platforms your target audience uses.
It’s a good idea to bank a bit of content up for your social channels before they launch so you can hit the ground running. Going live with nothing to share is like being in the spotlight with nothing to say.
And a not-so-secret Step 6: Repetition
Like everything else, Thought Leadership success will come from consistency. Keep writing your thoughts down. Keep looking for new themes. Keep digging into your assertions. Keep publishing. Keep driving traffic to your content. And always be working on a piece of Thought Leadership content.
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