How to Build Thought Leadership

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The field of marketing changes continually and draws more competition with time. But thanks to the rapid growth of innovations in social media and mobile platforms, the dialogue and gap between businesses and consumers continue to thin down.

Even so, you cannot rely on the job requirements to follow your role in a brand’s campaign or a marketing agency. If you want to stand out, it’s vital that you explore more areas outside your job description and join the larger conversation in the industry. Do not stay content as an average marketer in a jam-packed, congested line of work.

One way to stand out from the crowd is to build thought leadership all the way through your career. When you become a thought leader, everyone regards you as an authority or expert in his or her field. People will look up to you.

Strategy+Business, of the consulting firm Booz & Company, coined the term in its pages more than 20 years ago. As you work your way up the chain, consistently teaching other marketers, people will see you as a leader in your field of expertise.

A marketing professional can be an authority in one of the many areas of expertise because the marketing industry is massive. Among these areas are social media marketing, mobile advertising, and so on.

The key to build yourself as a thought leader in your field is education. You can do this through many different forms of content and on various types of media. But how you establish thought leadership is contingent on your interests, skills, and ease with the chosen field.

Nowadays, marketing and networking have one thing in common: the importance of testing various strategies to see what works best for whom and what works well with others.

Try at least one of the following methods to build reputation as a thought leader in your marketing field.

1. Write regularly and consistently.

Among the top ways to chip in to the conversation in marketing, and to build credibility, is through writing. Write regularly and consistently about industry news, strategies, trends, perspectives, and so on.

When you write, make sure that you extend to various media. It helps build conversations around you as a marketing professional and reaches many types of audiences. Your readers have an interest in what you have to say in your field of expertise.

A good marketer must try to combine writing a personal blog, a business blog, and for a third-party publication by guest blogging. This offers better syndication and more coverage.

Some marketers and writers do their writing this way to establish thought leadership for their personal and professional blogs. They often write on their own blog about topics related to personal interests and the marketing industry, including their company updates.

Follow this style to build thought leadership by writing and publishing your articles and blogs on multiple websites. Blog consistently on your site to gain confidence, build credibility, and create your own writing style. It will prepare you to write better for your employer and other publications.

2. Take part in speaking engagements.

People are not born good writers nor have an innate love for writing. But even if you do not have an interest in writing, there are lots of opportunities to build thought leadership through public speaking. It is an excellent way to share your expertise in the field.

When you talk personally to an audience at a seminar, forum, conference, or online via Google+ Hangouts, YouTube or on TV, you gain the ability to express your own views on the industry.

Find opportunities to speak in public at conferences similar to SXSW, such as a local Meetup. It enables you to stay in front of the right people with keen interests in marketing.

Take notes from other thought leaders who built their brands through speaking on both platforms – online and offline – by writing articles, appearing and speaking in TV segments, hosting events, and so on. For instance, you can talk about your expertise in web development or social media marketing, sharing to people the best practices to market businesses on social media. You can also add topics that you often write about in your articles or blog posts.

Every open opportunity is your chance to market yourself as a thought leader. It is the right step that points in the right direction because each article or appearance promotes and encourages for more articles and blogs, speaking engagements, interviews, and so on.

thought leadership

(Flickr / Dell Inc.)

3. Create and host networking events.

Modern marketers fear becoming obsolete due to abrupt changes in the industry. Many of them take part in networking events to nurture and expand their connections with other professionals. It keeps them updated and relevant on trends, ideas, platforms, and companies.

If you aim to be a though leader, not only do you have to participate in networking events, but you also have to create and host them to grow connections in the community, and expand the reach of your personal brand. Be a driver and start your own series of Google+ Hangouts, Twitter chats, or Meetups in your industry. People will see how valuable you are to other members of the marketing community.

An online or offline networking event in your field of expertise helps streamline your personal brand with your chosen niche. It is a great way to expand your network, to stay updated with emerging trends, and to learn from other professionals in the field. But to lead the conversation is a more potent way to make a mark in your industry.

4. Invite and answer questions through social media.

Most marketers believe that thought leadership is best served offline than online. Offline opportunities offer a personal touch for speakers. It allows the audience to associate a face to a live presentation rather than stay in front of a computer for hours.

Even so, online tools and platforms now allow marketing professionals to build thought leadership at a larger scale than previous eras. Tools such as Google+ Hangouts, Twitter, LinkedIn Groups, Quora, and more allow you to connect with global audiences from your home.

Go to social channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn to find questions about your field of expertise in marketing. Answer these questions in real time. Do this regularly and consistently across social platforms to build credibility and reputation as an expert on topics you want to be an expert in. It requires a long commitment to answer questions from other people and be a thought leader in a particular subject.

Take up the search across several social platforms for queries related to your expertise to the next level. Invite Q&As on a social account you own. After you have established a strong following of engaged audiences, remind them often that you are always ready to help and answer questions.

Many businessmen and marketing professionals use this method on social media. They encourage their followers to ask questions, so they can answer questions and offer a great deal of valuable information whenever applicable. It is a strategy that shows your perspective, influence, and expertise on helping other people and builds your name as a specialist on a subject area for months or years to come.

Never worry too much about what you will gain from the effort, especially when you’ve just started. At the outset, it is a trial and error phase wherein you experiment with social platforms to see what you can offer for the marketing community around you.

What do you think are valuable strategies when it comes to building thought leadership and growing your personal brand?


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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. His work appears on SocialBarrel.com and several other websites, covering social media, technology and other niches.

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