Some people really stand out from the crowd. They have an amazing job, a thriving business, and they exude credibility and influence. What makes them so different from everyone else?
It’s not about being smarter, or better, or even being connected to the right people.
It’s about knowing what to do with your expertise so that you get noticed.
Think about it. With all the technology available you can spread your message, your skills, and your business value to almost anyone in any media format.
So what is holding you back from becoming known as a thought leader in your field? What is keeping you from taking your career to the next level?
Create Demand for Yourself
There are quite a few reasons why you should consider building a brand for yourself. You may want career exposure, authority status within your industry, or maybe you’re looking for increased exposure to new opportunities.
Most importantly you should really want to get more involved in something you are passionate about.
Although the benefits are worthwhile, creating a brand from scratch is hard work and it takes time and energy to build something that’s going to stand out in your industry. You need to fully commit while taking these steps at your own pace.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of success. Start small and work your way up. Persistence and consistency are key.
Set a clear goal for yourself and map out your path to success. How much time will it take? Who are your role models? What barriers stand between you and where you want to be?
1) Read Up
Spend time looking for articles, blogs, and influential people online and read a few articles a day to see what topics are relevant and popular. Subscribe to blogs you enjoy and follow people on Twitter based on your interests.
You need to know what other influencers are talking about and which topics are buzzing in the industry before you get started. This will also help you develop a unique perspective on content that’s already out there so you can work on establishing your own opinions and ideas.
Look for any key messages and overarching themes in the blogs of other industry leaders and keep that in mind as you develop your perspective.
2) Prepare Yourself Mentally
It’s easy to jump right in and think that everything will fall into place when it comes to developing a successful online presence. Don’t kid yourself. This will be hard, but think about all the great opportunities that will become available to you once you get over the initial challenges.
You could get an amazing job offer, a book deal, or even turn your industry blog into an extremely profitable business. The opportunities are endless and it’s not just about taking the first step, it’s about moving forward little by little and creating something that will make you proud.
You also have to avoid getting paralyzed by fear.
Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Whatever it is, don’t let it hold you back.
You need to put your fears aside and accept that failure is a part of learning and not everyone will agree with you 100% of the time.
3) Know Your Audience
Are you a business owner trying to offer expertise to your target customer? Or maybe an executive trying to prove yourself as a credible industry leader? These are two entirely different scenarios. Thinking about your audience causes you to think about what results you are trying to achieve and who you need to connect with.
I know a lot of freelance writers, for example, who are writing blog posts with titles like “10 Ways to Grow Your Freelance Writing Business.” Can you see the problem here? Why would someone looking to hire a freelance writer care about becoming one?
The simple answer is: they wouldn’t.
In this case you should be focusing on what your audience want instead of what your competition might find interesting.
If you are looking for your dream job as a marketing manager of a Fortune 500 company, then it makes sense to write about marketing strategies, case studies, and your personal experience in the industry.
Think about who is going to consume the information you put out there and how you can craft carefully targeted messages to attract your ideal audience.
4) Focus on Content
Content is not only going to fuel your brand, but it shows off your unique insight and skill set. Don’t think of it as just writing down your thoughts, but instead it’s providing your audience with actual value.
This could be in the form of blog posts, audio (podcasts), video or whatever other media form that you prefer. I highly recommend starting a blog using a platform like WordPress, where you can deliver all of your content in one central location.
Look at Seth Godin, for example. He is a best selling author, marketing expert, and public speaker. His blog provides extreme value and proves that he is knowledgeable in his field. Visitors to his site can tell right away that he is someone to trust and admire. And they will be more likely to buy one of his books because of this…
Need inspiration? That’s where step one comes in handy. Look at what other thought leaders are saying and write about similar topics while adding your own personal thoughts and opinions.
Another way to find new content ideas is to look for inspiration from everyday activities.
I keep a running list of blog ideas in a Word document where I add questions or topics that I think my peers would find interesting in relation to my industry.
5) Perfect Your Networking Skills
Becoming an expert is not just about hiding behind your computer. Get out into your local community and attend events, volunteer to speak at a conference, and meet other individuals who are interested in the same things as you.
Work on your public speaking skills and address people with confidence. Develop a simple elevator pitch so you can effectively tell someone who you are and what you do without tripping over your words or rambling.
You can also network online by leaving insightful blog comments and linking to other relevant sites from your blog. If you find content you think is useful or particularly interesting, make sure to let the author know because that’s how relationships begin.
Associating yourself with other leaders will help you gain even more credibility and confidence.
6) Invest in Yourself
It’s one thing to want the benefits that come along with being a thought leader, but you really need to invest in yourself to make it happen. That means always having an eye out for new opportunities that could increase your expertise, provide a different perspective, or just a chance to meet someone new.
It’s important to be confident in your abilities while still remaining open to learning new things as you come across them.
How do you position yourself as a thought leader and if you don’t, what’s holding you back?