Looking to build “Thought Leadership”? Read on!
What the heck is a thought leader? Is it just another trending buzzword, similar to influencer, that is becoming more and more overused, therefore, less and less respected?
Here’s my quick answer: Yes. The term is often overused; therefore, yes, it can sometimes lose its impact; however, and this however is the most important part – thought leadership is still an incredibly effective PR strategy.
Let me explain.
The definition (according to Dictionary.com) of a thought leader is, “a person or organization that is a recognized authority in a particular field and whose innovative ideas influence and guide others.”
While some thought leaders are undeniable — for example, Martin Luther King Jr., Tony Robbins, Brené Brown — I think most can agree that the above definition leaves room for subjectiveness on who would (or should) qualify. That being said, of course some people will misuse or overuse the term and, by consequence, of course some people will disagree on who “meets the bill.” Nevertheless, pursuing thought leadership is a great way to stand out amongst the crowd in any competitive profession or niche.
You know that saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Well, neither are experts. Be advised that thought leadership demands a serious amount of time, consistency, and strategic execution before one can even begin to reach the “Brené Brown” level.
So, where does an aspiring thought leader even start? I suggest you begin by first considering these five questions:
1. What do you want to be known for?
2. Who is already an expert in this niche?
- How did those who have achieved thought leadership in your niche do it? How are you different from them?
3. What makes you uniquely qualified in this niche?
- What experiences or achievements allow you to be an expert on this topic?
4. What is your objective for developing “thought leader” status?
- Do you want to be well-known, attract clients, etc.?
5. What topics can you write about that relate to that objective?
Once you’ve answered these questions, your path towards “how to” and “what next” becomes a lot more easily defined. That being said, I do want to give you one tactic to start actualizing your thought leadership aspirations…
Self-publishing is the action a creator takes when independently publishing their work without the intervention of a publishing company or approval from a media outlet. This form of publication is great for three reasons: (1) there is little to no barrier to entry, (2) it gives creators complete creative control over their work, and (3) it’s (mostly) free.
While there are many ways to self-publish, here are 11 tried-and-true ways you can begin your journey towards achieving “thought leader” status.
1. Write articles on LinkedIn. (P.S. like the one you’re reading now.)
2. Start a blog about your niche.
3. Publish on Thrive Global
Started by Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global provides thought leaders the opportunity to self-publish anytime, anywhere.
4. Publish on Medium
Medium provides a space for authors to self-publish articles, as well as magazines.
5. Publish an E-book.
6. Publish your own White Paper.
7. Self-produce a Podcast.
8. Upload unique content to Youtube.
9. Thoughtfully post on Instagram, Instagram Live, and IG TV.
10. Utilize Facebook and Facebook Live.
11. Guest Post on other creator’s platforms and sites
Though this method does have a slight barrier to entry, it is much easier than pitching for earned press coverage.
(…and unverified by yours truly) but apparently some people are utilizing the “Tik Tok” app to make a name for themselves…depending on your niche (and target audience), it may be worth a little extra research.