Thought leadership is a term that shows up frequently in the business world. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need more than just a commitment to a great idea and a passion for productivity.
The best company owners supplement their company’s reputation with their own personal brand.
They do this by establishing themselves as leaders in their field — and gaining the respect and trust of their customers in the process.
Unfortunately, thought leadership isn’t something you can cultivate overnight.
If you really want to connect with your target audience and boost your chances of long-term success, you need to create a plan for constantly building and enhancing your reputation.
Here are some of the essential ways you can position yourself as an authority in your niche.
Have Clearly Defined Values and Messages
You know you want to grow a successful and profitable company, but what do you want to accomplish beyond that? There’s more to any organization than just making money.
For instance, Google wanted to ensure that the world could have an easy way to find information. Microsoft wanted to put computers on tables all around the globe.
Decide what you want to accomplish both as a person and the leader of your company, and make sure that you convey that vision in your messaging.
You can start by describing the things you value on your social media pages and discussing your mission when being interviewed by media companies in your niche.
Once you find your values and vision, keep them steady as your business begins to grow. It’s harder to trust anyone who loses track of their mission.
Stay Informed and On Top of the Trends
Although your vision and values need to remain consistent as your business and personal brand grow, this doesn’t mean that you should be developing in a vacuum.
You’re going to be establishing your thought leadership in an environment that’s constantly changing and evolving. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and examine your marketplace.
Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends and consumer expectations to show that you’re aware of what’s going on around you.
This could mean taking the time to comment on social media when stories are relevant to you and your values.
It could also mean posting regular news updates or sending emails to customers to let them know you’re aware of the struggles they’re facing right now — and what you’re going to do to help.
Collaborate with Industry Authorities
Sometimes, to be deemed an authority or thought leader in your industry, you need to associate yourself with people that your audience already trusts.
Collaborating with other experts who are already big names in your industry is a great way to give your reputation a boost.
You can work with other companies on eBooks and webinars or get involved with a guest blog on their site.
Another way to collaborate to improve your thought leadership is to work with an influencer on social media.
These experts can participate in interviews with you to improve your image, or just give you and your social pages a crucial shout-out, so you can attract more potential leads and followers.
Communicate Consistently Across Multiple Touchpoints
Having a social media presence where you talk about trending topics and post links to relevant stories is a great way to begin building a brand.
However, if you really want to convey your values and beliefs in a more valuable way, you need your own dedicated soapbox.
A blog is an excellent way to strengthen your personal brand and share your beliefs and knowledge with your audience.
With a blog, you can share your opinions on industry news and findings or share insights into your industry in a unique and interesting way.
Blogging also gives you an excellent opportunity to make people more aware of your position as a thought leader.
If you optimize your content to rank for the right terms and keywords, you can reach a vast number of new potential followers.
The higher your blog ranks in the search engine, the more likely it is to grab attention and enhance your appearance as a thought leader.
Be Active in the Industry
A lot of the work you do to build your position as a thought leader can be done online.
Publishing blogs on your site shows that you know what you’re talking about. Interacting with people on social media gives you a chance to build a virtual community of people who share similar values and goals.
However, it’s important to participate in the industry in other ways too.
Get involved with publications that your customers are already reading and interacting with.
You might be able to guest post on someone else’s blog or appear in a video series or podcast from an influencer that your customers love.
Another option is to attend or even organize industry events, either in the real world or virtually, and take advantage of any opportunity to speak to your audience and make your knowledge known.
Let Your Thought Leadership Sign
Thought leadership isn’t just a buzzword in the marketing landscape.
Becoming a thought leader is your chance to attract new customers, strengthen your relationship with your target audience, and open the door to new opportunities.
Just make sure you have the right strategy in place when building your reputation.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.