Through this competitive, fast-paced global market, companies are researching ways they can increase the growth of their business. Offering a great product and putting it to market isn’t enough anymore. Companies are working hard to become innovators and industry leaders. They aim to create better products and services to connect with their customers. The best way to do that is by investing in thought leadership.
Thought leaders change the world and their industry in meaningful ways, engaging others to join their cause. They bring original, innovative thinking that stretches traditional business and strategic norms. Thought leaders think outside the box and find opportunities in the face of adversity.
Investing in thought leadership can produce immeasurable benefits. When there are thought leaders within your company, they begin to gain recognition with their networks and with customers around them. This increases the influence of your brand and company. The more thought leaders that are in your company, the more it can grow.
Thought leaders bring innovation and forward-thinking strategies that improve a company’s brand, establishes its credibility, and can increase their sales.
Putting the “Thought” in Thought Leadership
Utilize What You Already Have
Think of all the presentations, reports, and tricks you have developed within your career. All that experience could be articulated into something tangible that others can learn from. Review everything on your computer and files. Think back to the memories and lessons you have learned. All these things can help identify and create your unique positioning as a thought leader.
You can begin to share this information through public speaking, articles, podcasts and more. When you can develop a strategy that professionals and companies can replicate, you will quickly become an authority on the subject and in your field.
As leaders within your company develop this skill, they represent the brand. It establishes credibility and creates bigger network overtime.
Create Valuable Content (and Often)
Something you can start right away is creating content for your network. Establish a list of topics and subjects that you can share with people in your industry. Review all of the leaders you look up to and see what kind of material they post. Write about relevant things and that can add a lot of value to people.
It’s important to use platforms where your readers will be. For example, if you own a B2C that caters for weddings, LinkedIn might not be your platform. Pinterest would be best for the creative industry. If you need to find clients for B2B opportunities, LinkedIn is perfect. Publish articles and content where your target audience likes to hang out.
In everything you and the thought leaders in your company do, make sure it represents your brand well. It should relate to the business in some way. If the subject you write about has nothing to do with your professional image and company, then your audience could get confused. It’s also more beneficial for your company if its leaders work to build the brand up.
The best way to add credibility is by using relevant research and data. Agencies like iResearch Services provide intellectual research that includes surveys, analyses, distribution, and leads, that can provide valuable information to businesses in all industries. Using this information can establish you as a credible thought-leader quickly.
Is writing not your strong suit? You can develop and outline with all the information you have and hire someone to write it for you. Or you can hire an editor. In the meantime, this allows you to hone the craft down. Don’t forget about other mediums too, like video and radio shows.
Be Authentic (and Generous)
Your audience wants to connect with you. When you are authentic, you quickly relate to those you are trying to speak to. Be specific about everything you and your business is going through. Give inside scoops on how to improve operations or strategies. When you can help someone on a personal level, you begin to build a following for you and your brand.
Give, give, give. The more generous you are with what you offer— your time, and information— the bigger thought leader you can become. Thought leadership is all about adding value to people. Thought leadership cannot exist without seeing people as #1.
Tell them your failures. The only difference between those who fail and those who find success is that the people who succeed never stop failing. When you share those low points, you connect with those you speak to, and you provide some of the highest value anyone can give.
Represent Your Brand’s “Why”
This biggest form of credibility you can have is the support of your company behind you. As a thought leader, you are your company’s ambassador. You have the biggest chance to make the brand beyond a product or a service. You represent “WHY” people choose your company.
If you offer business consulting, you aren’t fixing a company’s problem. You are equipping them for future, unprecedented growth so that they can operate at a whole new level; a more effective business means a more fulfilling life for the employees and their customers. As a thought leader, you can preach the benefits of your brand and why it creates tremendous opportunities for the world.
Accept that You Can’t Please Everybody
Anyone who is on a platform will disappoint somebody. It’s a good sign if you are upsetting some people. It means you are offering an innovative, out-of-the-box, idea. Of course, you want most people to be happy. A good way to measure that is by taking note of negative feedback but not thinking too much about it. If it comes up again, take a note, but it still might not matter. If people close to you begin to bring it up, then revisit that feedback and consider if it holds merit. Adjust accordingly.
When you are getting attention, there will always be a small group of critics. Thought leaders should have a thick skin but treat it with a graceful attitude. If the negative feedback bothers you, try to see things from the other’s perspective. Learn from them. But don’t change what you stand for.
Set Aside a Time for Reflection
This is the last point, but it’s the most crucial to being a thought leader. Thought leaders need actual time for thoughts! It’s important to set aside a time to reflect. Think of places where you can relax. Find a spot to enjoy nature or a comfortable chair in a room that keeps you calm. Create ways where you can empty your mind. As you create a healthy thought-life, you will begin to see an increase in ideas and revelations. Take note of them. Journal. Dissect those thoughts. Value the small things in life and business… find what makes them unique.
Once you can reflect daily, you will begin to develop your ideas for thought leadership. Ask yourself every day what you were happy about, what you wish you did, how you can do something better, and what can you learn.
Follow these steps and you will continue to grow as a thought leader. The ultimate goal is to become a creator of thought leaders. When you develop others within your company, you begin to multiply your influence. You are limited. But your influence can carry on. Strong companies have strong thought leaders.