August 25, 2016
In a sea of millions of popular and interesting blogs, how can you possibly make a name for yourself if you’re an online marketer trying to promote your blog.
Enter thought leadership.
I absolutely love this concept. Neil Patel explained it well on Entreprenuer: it’s a mindset and a practice that will help you rise above the sea of everyone else who is in your niche.
A thought leader is one who takes the time, effort and has the skills to become an authority in their field- an individual who drives fresh ideas, innovation and change. This is no easy task.
While there is no standard tested and proven recipe for success that you can instantly personalize and apply to reach this status, there are a few tips that you could make use of to get close to your ideal thought leadership status.
10 Steps to Take to Become an Inspiring Thought Leader
To establish yourself as a blogger with thought leadership, you must feed your readers’ ever-growing appetence for first-hand content. Aside from keeping your audience well-fed, you also have to nourish your relationships with fellow bloggers, influencers, media outlets and other important players in your field; on top of that, you have to make time to conduct extensive research, educate yourself and perfect your natural leadership skills.
If you live under the impression that there isn’t enough time in a day for all these tasks, keep reading the following mini guide to discover the 10 basic steps that you should take to become a better thought leader.
1. Create and Consolidate Your Personal Brand
A healthy, prominent personal brand is the core of any successful marketing strategy that one could ever design and employ to bond with different audiences and achieve business success in any industry. In this case, leadership is a natural consequence of your ability to build and consolidate your personal brand and become visible on a larger scale. If you want to boost your popularity and make a name for yourself in no time, start by rethinking and upgrading your social media profiles, including Twitter and LinkedIn, to highlight your most important career achievements and credentials. This simple step will leave the door open to new social networking opportunities that you shouldn’t miss out on.
2. Collaborate with Other Industry Experts and Rely on Mentors
If you’re shy and have terrible people skills, now would be a good time to eliminate this drawback. It’s no secret that the real thought leaders in any industry have an amazing ability to convey their messages to large audiences and establish deeper connections with other Web influencers with ease.
Once you manage to establish a good baseline reputation, follow in their footsteps and get in touch with business owners, fellow bloggers and respectable thought leaders in your sector who share your interests, goals and vision. In case you’re already crafting and distributing excellent 10x content socially to rise above the crowd, chances are that industry experts will come knocking at your door without you lifting a finger. Be sociable and work harder to cultivate relationships through different tactics, including guest posting, to grow your audience online and keep the most inspiring influencers and mentors by your side.
3. Perfect Your Networking Skills
Great networking skills will take you a long way not only when it comes to bonding with other industry experts and scratching each other’s backs, but also when socializing with the people who are most likely to amplify and spread your marketing messages. Tackle both online and offline channels to reach your targeted audience and make your message heard and also try to build a network around your brand. Stay active on as many social media platforms as possible, and attend networking events to discover new speaking opportunities that could give you the chance to reveal your amazing skills, expertise and unique vision.
4. Craft Interesting, Awe-Inspiring, Shareable Content
Aside from being the central piece of any successful marketing strategy that you could come up with while promoting your business online and offline, content should also be seen as an excellent manner of self-expression. My blog post on how to market to millennials reveals that in order to reach its target and actually deliver the results that you have in mind, the content that you produce on a regular basis has to be informative, tailor-made, and authentic. Button-up, run-of-the-mill old-school marketing strategies don’t work on this audience; so you will have to spend more time researching topics of interest, gathering and refining your ideas and eventually, creating original, pertinent content that your readers could truly connect with. Leave all masks and predefined patterns behind, show your audience who you really are reveal your authenticity through your quality content. Trust professionals if you’re not sure how to craft winning copy.
5. Make Sure You Get Published as Often as Possible
Once you take pride in excellent content, why not strive to distribute your high-impact ideas across various platforms, to expand your reach, boost your popularity and achieve your marketing goals? In this situation, it would be a smart move to turn to the connections that you have already established with industry experts and influencers and start publishing quality guest posts on several other industry-specific blogs. As soon as you complete this step and gain confidence in your skills to leverage your professional relationships, set and pursue bigger goals and seek publication on bigger, more authoritative and popular sources that could support your long-term ascension.
6. Think (and Act!) Outside the Box
Before working on your relationships with others, you may want to improve the relationship that you have with yourself. Take the time you need to filter your ideas and your objectives. Conduct a personal SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis to know yourself better and avoid failure by setting new achievable goals and becoming aware of your own limitations.
As a Forbes article points out, this small step is the key to treating yourself as a highly competitive product in need of branding. Stay active in your sector, keep pace with new trends and don’t doubt the fact that extensive research and commitment will allow you to feel the pulse of the industry and make accurate predictions and bolder claims. Make the most of your expert insight to stay one step ahead of your competitors and establish yourself as a savvy thought leader.
7. Transcend Boundaries by Expressing Bolder Ideas
You cannot be innovative and inspiring if you’re not able and willing to move mountains and succeed where others have failed. Through a healthy, cohesive content strategy allowing you to express your uniqueness while informing, entertaining and educating your audience, you could jump over obstacles and drive innovation and change in your industry. The key is to explore the benefits of the authority that you have already managed to establish, and work even harder to express bold ideas that could make a difference in your niche.
8. Build a Community of Fans and Followers Who Actually “Get” You
One of the most interesting things about being a thought influencer is that you will get different reactions from the people who are exposed to your message. Some will sleep with your photo under their pillow, while others will do just about anything to get front row tickets to your permanent annihilation.
During this stage of your journey, you will have to acknowledge the fact that you can’t (and shouldn’t try to) please everyone. Instead, you should save some of the time and energy that you may be tempted to invest trying to convert haters into your biggest fans and redirect it toward building a solid community of individuals who get your message and are likely to support your causes and your progress. Benefit from their unconditional love and encouragement and rely on social media to keep them informed, entertained and involved around the clock.
9. Explore a Wider Palette of Tools Allowing You to Become a More Influential Leader
As you may already imagine, technology continues to surprise us with various handy tools designed to provide the best solutions to our daily problems. These days, there’s at least one good app for just about anything, including your struggle to become an inspiring, acclaimed thought leader.
Ideally, you should use tools that are designed specifically for the online platforms that you use to reach your audience and convey your message. For instance, if you’re active on Twitter, you may want to use a Twitter analyzer such as Twitalyzer to track and measure your influence; or if you want to gain full control over your search engine visibility, you may want to rely on Brand Yourself, a fantastic tool for online reputation management, to identify (and work on) the results that people get when they Google you, your team and your business.
10. Once You Find Your Recipe for Success, Stick to It
Most importantly, keep in mind that consistency is key in any field of activity. Once you manage to establish your authority, and inform, inspire and motivate a larger segment of public, keep up the good work and always leave room for improvements.
Remember that the most powerful leaders constantly reinvent themselves. They analyze, connect, fail, correct their past mistakes, anticipate and evolve. At the end of the day, an ideal combination of in-depth research, non-stop networking, hard work and motivation could help you establish yourself as a thought leader and become the best version of yourself.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.