You started your company for a reason, didn’t you? You had specific values in mind for your brand and it’s your desire to rise enough in your industry to share those values with your colleagues. You’re hungering for the respect that comes along with being a thought leader. What can you do to achieve that goal? Read on.
1. Brand, Know Thyself
It’s hard to stand if you don’t know what you stand for. Your brand might have many great selling points, but let’s be honest. Can anyone remember more than three or four of them? And if you’ve got more than one or two main focuses, the consumer may wonder how dedicated you are to the integrity of each one. So how do you narrow it down and decide what to proclaim as your brand’s focus? Ask yourself these questions
- What are the values your brand represents?
- Why did you start this business?
- What three words best describe your brand?
Putting these answers together should lead you to a mission statement that will help guide you to understanding your number one priority. The more you can narrow your focus, the better you will be able to identify your audience. When you know your audience, you know exactly who to reach and to whom you will show yourself as a thought leader.
2. Get Focused
Now that you know who you are, how do you make sure your brand is representing itself properly? There are several steps to centralizing your focus. Select one person to be your thought leader. This person will make sure everything that comes out of your company truly reflects your brand. Your thought leader can be like a filter, making sure that everything that comes from your organization stems from your central idea. If this person is a writer, she should submit her work to the proper publications. Find the ones that most reflect your brand so you can become known in that niche, and make sure you are streamlining your content to show your values. To be a thought leader, you must stand out in your own industry.
3. Go Above and Beyond
Where are you presenting your ideas? While your content should be limited to publications in your industry, your marketing and networking can spread to many different areas. Don’t just leave your blog on your website, share it! Make a link to your blog on Linkedin or any of the social media that is relevant to your brand. Be sure to use a variety of media in your presentation. The more visually-focused you can be (pictures and video), the more likely your material is to be viewed.
How do you know where to post and be found? Look to your mentors. Where are the people that YOU are listening to? That’s where you should post and spend your time. And remember, those industry innovators are not untouchable. Contact them, follow them, pick their brains. You can only improve yourself and your brand by using the influence of a successful network. Before you know it, you will be the one others are chasing after you’ve presented your ideas at a conference.
4. Contribute Value
To be a successful thought leader, you have to have the interests of your audience in mind. Others are drawn to those most like themselves. Make sure you are spending time enriching your field with information about what you know that’s working. Publish content that is useful and your followers will feel like they are drawing power from you. The more value you add to your brand with content, the more credibility you will earn as a thought leader.
5. Be Innovative
What will truly make you stand out as a thought leader in your industry is to actually bring out some original thoughts. When you have an idea that stands out from all others, don’t automatically dismiss it. It may be different, but that’s what disruptive innovation is all about. It’s also what gets attention. Hearing the same ideas will eventually become white noise. But people pay attention to what’s new. Look for new insights for your followers to take note of.
It will take a lot of work, but no one said being a thought leader in your industry was easy. We can only promise that the respect that comes with leading the way will be worth it. Take the next step and bring your brand to the next level.