Thought Leadership How to: Techniques for Industry Leadership
Thought leaders are the ïtastemakersï of the world. They have an impact on the people around them that causes their words and actions to be highly influential. In order to effect change in your industry, it behooves you to develop the soft skills that could make you a thought leader. Denise Brosseau, founder of Thought Leadership Lab, explored the paths to greater persuasiveness in ïReady to Be a Thought Leaderï (Jossey-Bass, 2013), an interesting analysis of thought leadership and how to become an influencer.
Brosseau says entrepreneurs and/or small business owners could stand apart from the crowd by developing their credibility and visibility and, by extension, that of their companies by establishing themselves as respected thought leaders in their respective niches.
Entrepreneurs are well positioned to be thought leaders because they can inspire others with innovative ideas, create dedicated friends, fans and followers to help them bring their ideas into reality, and reproduce those ideas and scale them into sustainable change.
Recognition as a thought leader positions you as the go-to expert in your niche. You can leverage that influential status to attract customers and partners, find good employees and secure funding for new endeavors or expansion.
Six Tips to Boost Your Influence
1. Be approachable and ïof service.ï Thought leadership is how to knowïand be known byïthe right people. Aim to attract and connect with followers, regardless of what you’re doing. Your personality and your writing and speaking styles should be approachable. Brosseau recollects a CEO who spends 30 minutes every day gathering information for her network. She sends articles, congratulatory messages, industry news and ideas.
2. Be an active listener. A thought leader listens to learn what matters to their community and uses that knowledge to add value. There are several ways to listen and bolster your expertise.
-Read industry publications.
-Follow influential people on social media.
-Read top-rated blogs in your field to learn what people in your niche are likely to care most about.
-Join forums or LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry.
-Host regular meetups of your customers so they can have a place to be heard.
-Sit on expert panels at workshops and conferences.
-Use your blog to engage visitors by asking questions. Create a poll using SurveyMonkey, Poll Daddy or even Facebook. Include questions in your newsletter(s) if you send out any.
3. Become an active participant in your niche ecosystem to discover the trends, patterns and concerns of others in your niche, even if it means working with the competition. Working with those tackling similar challenges as yourself not only gains their respect, but also teaches you whom you can rely on for advice or critical resources. Consider joining trade associations, local entrepreneurial organizations or leads groups like BNI. Get involved in community issues.
4. Create a ïtrail of authorityï online. To bolster your thought leadership, learn how to use sites like LinkedIn, SlideShare or Vimeo to become discoverable and trusted. Validate your authority with real-world examples. Case studies, media mentions and testimonials all can provide proof of your credible expertise. Find opportunities to talk to the media. Create downloadable, informative media like an eBook and share it widely. Apply for an award or ask someone to nominate you.
5. Share freely. Thought leaders are making their visions for the future come true. They tend to be very open and transparent about those visions and how they intend to bring them to fruition. Sharing your thoughts and personal experiences, particularly those that demonstrate resilience, could make you more approachable.
Chip Conley is a great example of someone who understood thought leadership and how to use its power. He founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality at just 26-years-old and grew it from one hotel into the second-largest boutique hotel company in America. Along the way, he wrote four books and spoke before large audiences, sharing his business expertise but also his bankruptcy fears and his near-death from an untreated infection. These personal experiences not only made him more relatable but also inspired many.
6. It’s a relay, not a sprint. Creating a reputation as a trusted leader and developing a large following doesn’t happen overnight. Develop milestones to gauge your success, then assemble a personal board of directors who can support you, serve as your sounding board and assess your progress. Remember to stop and celebrate from time to time. Your personal board of directors can help you take time to appreciate your achievements so you don’t burn out.
Take advantage of the extensive resources at Mighty Recruiter to go beyond this article on thought leadership and how to achieve it, and learn more techniques to improve your entrepreneurial effectiveness.