Do you wonder how the people who are always being quoted about your industry got to be where they are? The short answer is they are smart, and they work at promoting themselves.
Every industry has thought leaders and influencers. Thought leaders understand their business, and they stay on top of changes and issues. They are among the first to spot trends, and they are constantly learning. They aren’t afraid to share their perspectives with others.
And so, people listen to them.
If one of your goals this year is to become one of those people whom others follow and retweet, here’s what you need to do:
Write blogs regularly. Blogs are powerful platforms for thought leaders because they allow you to write about topics that are important to you and your industry. By publishing on your company or personal blog, you can control the content and the publication schedule. Share your blogs on social media to increase your circle of influence and introduce yourself to leaders in your industry and other industries.
Publish articles or a book. To be taken seriously as a thought leader, you will need to be published beyond your blog. Share your expertise in articles on industry trends or issues and submit them to trade or industry publications. Make friends with journalists who cover your industry and encourage them to reach out to you when they need quotes on a particular topic or area of expertise. If you have a really big idea, you might consider a bigger platform such as a book. A book is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of original content, time and patience, not to mention a publisher. Remember to leverage any articles you’ve written or been quoted in on your social media and your blog.
Pursue speaking opportunities. Thought leaders are in demand at professional conferences. It’s an enormous compliment to be offered a seat on a panel or to be asked to moderate a discussion before your peers. To establish thought leadership, book speaking engagements on topics that you are very comfortable with at regional or national conferences. Plenty of opportunities exist, but remember that there also are many people angling for those same opportunities. Apply for every reasonable opportunity that you are qualified for, and be sure to arrive well-prepared so you will be asked back next year.
Be a podcast guest. Speaking on relevant podcasts is a great way to demonstrate expertise, reach new audiences and gain new followers. Begin by connecting on LinkedIn with the hosts of podcasts that you enjoy and that are popular among leaders in your industry or position. After the hosts — who themselves are influencers — see links to your blogs and information on your blogs or speaking engagements, it will be easier to start a conversation about being a guest on their podcast. When the podcast is available, leverage the opportunity by tagging the host or podcast, sharing the link on your own social media and including a link to your blog and social handles in the episode description.
Launch a PR campaign. Establishing thought leadership is all about good public relations. Share links to blogs, articles and podcasts on your social media. Send news releases when you take on leadership positions in professional and industry organizations, when you lead classes or workshops and when you speak to professional groups. Target trade publications, local news contacts, alumni magazines and other media that reach audiences with whom you want to connect.
Establishing thought leadership is not an easy or quick task, but it’s both important and doable if you are a true expert and leader. If you already are publishing, speaking and working to establish your expertise and influence, take the time to properly leverage those activities to see an increase in followers and new opportunities.