How to develop Thought Leadership and Excel at it. A thought leader is someone who can guide, influence, and inspire their peers based on their expertise, experience, and unique perspective. As thought leaders, they are constantly developing new ideas and strategies to leverage and improve their industries, and they share these new concepts with others.
However, a person does not achieve thought leadership simply by possessing the basic qualities of a thought leader, such as deep expertise and the ability to find new approaches. To become a thought leader, one must consistently demonstrate and prove these characteristics to others.
If only a few people are aware of your brilliant ideas and in-depth knowledge of the industry, you are not yet a thought leader. Furthermore, the qualities of a true thought leader can and should be shaped and strengthened through practice.
If you want to be a thought leader, you must work hard. Here are 7 methods on how to develop thought leadership and excel at it in your industry:
1. Become a mentor.
Make yourself a thought leader for at least one person with less experience. Entrepreneurship is not an easy road, so your advice will be greatly appreciated by those who have just begun their journey. Your first mentees may be friends or friends of friends. Sometimes all it takes is a social media post, but don’t limit yourself to posting to your own feed; there are many professional communities on LinkedIn and Facebook where you can offer your advice.
Furthermore, there are online services that match mentees to mentors, and you can create a profile on one of those sites. Also, if you know someone from a startup accelerator, you can ask them if they are looking for a mentor and offer your candidacy.
2. Manage your online reputation
Your online reputation influences how others perceive you through the internet’s lens. On a basic level, managing your online reputation may be as simple as maintaining a thoughtful attitude toward your social media. Use these platforms to demonstrate your professional expertise, experience, and opinions. You can join discussions started by other users in addition to writing your own posts.
A broader approach to online reputation management may include the creation of a personal website, a YouTube blog, and an audit. The latter entails investigating people’s perceptions of your personality based on your online presence. You can conduct an audit yourself or hire a professional. An online reputation management consultant can save you a lot of time and effort, as well as keep you from making mistakes.
3. Write guest posts
It’s now easier than ever to become a columnist for a popular media outlet in your field of expertise and develop thought leadership. Online magazines and blogs are always looking for high-quality content and would appreciate it if you could provide some. It is preferable to become a guest writer for outlets that you truly enjoy reading, but keep in mind that you may not be aware of many respectable media platforms, so do your research. Also, keep in mind that such websites usually have a page with guidelines for guest posts that you must follow in order for your contribution to be accepted.
4. Participate in both free and paid entrepreneurial digital communities.
Joining free and fee-based digital communities for entrepreneurs can provide many opportunities for someone aspiring to be a thought leader. These are communities where you can share your expert opinion and find an audience, and where you may find your future mentees. Furthermore, in these communities, you can observe other entrepreneurs attempting thought leadership and learn a few things from them.
5. Participate in Panel Discussions
An expert roundup is a blog post or a feature in a mass media publication that gathers opinions on a specific topic from a number of experts and develop thought leadership. For example, ten financial experts weigh in on the future of fintech. The main benefit that an entrepreneur can gain from this is exposure. Assume there are eight people, including yourself, taking part in an expert roundup, and each person shares the post on their social media. Sounds like a great outcome, and it will give you the opportunity to be noticed and improve your online reputation score. Calls for participants for such roundups can be found on social media and platforms that connect journalists with newsmakers.
6. Join podcasts in your niche market.
According to a recent podcast industry report from Insider Intelligence, there will be 504.9 million podcast listeners worldwide in 2024, up from 464.7 million in 2022. Podcasts have grown in popularity because they provide a convenient way to learn new things while doing something else. There are now thousands of podcasts, many of which are devoted to a specific topic. There is almost certainly at least one podcast that fits the niche of your expertise, and its host is almost certainly open to new guests. Don’t wait for an invitation before contacting them.
7. Pay attention to SEO.
Whether you only use social media or have a personal website, both are subject to search engine indexing. To be honest, SEO is not an easy thing to do on your own, so you should probably hire a consultant who can explain it to you, conduct research, and make recommendations. People are constantly using search engines, and it would be beneficial to you if they could find your posts or website when looking for information about your industry and your area of expertise. One day, a respected magazine journalist or venture fund analyst may find you by googling your field.
Don’t pass up opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge, and make opportunities for yourself to develop thought leadership and reap the benefits that come with it.