Leading from the Front – Five Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader

We have all heard of the old adage “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you”, but how can you translate this into winning new business and leading your industry?

The answer is through thought leadership and crafting yourself into an expert speaker in your chosen field.

The concept of thought leadership is not a new one, but it’s becoming an increasingly important tactic for raising the profile of your business in the ultra-competitive era of social media.

But, before we delve into the detail, what is a thought leader?

A thought leader is a person or business which is widely recognised as an authority in terms of knowledge and expertise in their respective areas.

Don’t think you’ve got what it takes to be a thought leader? Think again!

It doesn’t matter what industry you belong too, or what level you work at, the chances are you will know something that many people don’t. Your knowledge and expertise is your currency, but to get the most from it, you have to make sure you’re using it in the right way.

Sharing what you know – and it really doesn’t matter what it is so long as it adds value for someone – puts you on the first step of the ladder to becoming a thought leader.  

Over the years we have worked with a diverse range of public and private-sector clients in a variety of different sectors – from law companies to animal charities. All of them, regardless of what they do, are experts in their own right, and it’s our job to help use their expertise to enhance their reputation and raise their profile.

Being a thought leader in your industry will give you and your business credibility and visibility. You’ll be seen as an industry leader by your sector peers and by prospective customers, making you a better prospect to work with.

Most people want to do business with people who know their stuff and are at the top of their game. Customers are more likely to want to work with a company seen to be at the cutting edge as they’ll believe they will add more value than their nearest competitor.  

If you’re sold on the idea of becoming a thought leader, I’m sorry to inform you that there’s no quick fix to becoming one. It’s a long-term strategy using different platforms and techniques, but it will be well worth the investment of your time.

Five steps to get your started:

  • The most important step is having something to say! You can’t be a thought leader if you don’t have any thoughts on your industry…
  • Publish your thoughts. Make the most of your website – it’s an asset that you control. Writing blogs can be a great way of sharing your thoughts and USPs. Maybe you’re a well established sign maker, competing against more companies than ever before. What are you doing differently that you can share with customers? What do you want to do to change your industry? Sharing your ideas, analysis and news is the first step. The best example of this is the blog you’re reading right now! Blogs will also boost your website performance too.
  • Take to the stage. Book yourself in as a speaker at events. To get started, you might have to pay to speak at business expos or trade events, but as you start to make a name for yourself, you’ll soon see more speaking invitations land in your inbox.
  • Social media is a great way of communicating to journalists, stakeholders and of course potential customers. Create content with graphics and videos. Social media allows you to respond to stories in real time.
  • Engage with the media. Often, journalists are looking for credible sources for expert comment and opinion. Make yourself a go-to commentator within your industry. Last year, we were asked by the BBC to comment from a marketing perspective on the benefit of selling the name of the Humber Bridge to advertisers. As you start to make a name for yourself, you’ll get journalists phoning you rather than the other way around.

Good luck! LT