5 Ways to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader
One of the most effective ways to build both your brand and your business is to position yourself as a thought leader in your field. While that might seem like a daunting task, you don't have to launch a car into space or write a revolutionary bestseller to achieve thought-leader status.
What is a Thought Leader?
Thought leaders are people whose insight and opinions on a subject are widely accepted as authoritative. As an entrepreneur, you are an expert on your business -- and people work with you because of your training, knowledge, and experience. However, in order to grow your business and brand, you must leverage your expertise and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Here are five steps you can start taking today to help you get there.
1. Write and Publish as Much as Possible
Writing articles for industry media outlets is not only an effective way to share your knowledge but also to extend your reach. You can quickly and easily identify potential publications, and their article guidelines, with an internet search.
For instance, if you are an expert craft brewer and want to spread the word about your knowledge, typing in queries such as, "top craft brewery business publications" or "best craft beer magazine" will reveal a list of popular trade and consumer platforms you can pitch with proposed articles.
Be sure to follow the publication's pitching guidelines, which can usually be found by searching the publication's name + "submission guidelines" (or "writer guidelines").
2. Give Interviews
Interviews are one of the best ways to position yourself as an industry expert because it allows you to showcase your knowledge across a variety of media platforms. From video and radio to digital and print, adding interviews to your strategy will not only help establish authority, it will also bring more traffic to your website.
Television and radio interviews
If you have the connections to get on a major network, by all means do so. If not, stations in smaller markets are always looking for guests; you can get your foot in the door by approaching local television and radio stations. Visit their primary websites for their contact information or instructions on how to send your interview request.
Become an expert on "Help a Reporter Out"
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform that connects experts with journalists, often from major media outlets. Registering and pitching with HARO is free, though paid subscription services are also available. While the source-to-outlet ratio is imbalanced and therefore highly competitive, writing the perfect HARO pitch can help you gain recognition as a thought leader.
Podcasts are quickly becoming a leading source for news, resources, and entertainment. According to research from Nielsen, podcasts reach millions of listeners across the U.S. with numbers increasing every year. Be a guest on an established podcast or consider starting your own.
3. Book Public Speaking Gigs
Public speaking is a way to showcase leadership to a larger, targeted audience. It is also a great way to make your brand more personable (through storytelling) or resourceful (through in-depth Q&A sessions).
If you're new to public speaking, giving a commencement speech at your alma mater or a keynote speech at a business luncheon are ways to break into public speaking on a local level.
Join a speaker's bureau
A speaker's bureau is a group of speakers available to give talks at conferences and community gatherings. Belonging to a speaker's bureau can make it much easier to connect with appropriate events and audiences.
Give a TEDx talk
Landing a TEDx talk isn't easy -- applications must be completed, usually months in advance of the event. However, the 15 minutes you spend giving your TEDx talk are well worth it and can change your life.
4. Attend Industry and Networking Events
There's nothing like a good ol' fashioned face-to-face meeting to solidify your reputation as a thought leader. Industry and networking events are an ideal opportunity to not only share your own experiences but to learn from others' as well. Check Eventbrite for networking events near you to get started -- many are free!
5. Make Yourself Available
When you are hyper-focused on achieving a goal, it's easy to have tunnel vision and lose sight of the people around you. Always set aside a block of time to be available: to answer questions, to collaborate, to mentor. Connecting with others will benefit you and those you communicate with.
Remember, even today's most well known thought leaders had to start somewhere.
The more you can share your insights and expertise -- whether through articles, interviews, public speaking, networking, or mentoring -- the more you will be viewed as a thought leader.
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About the author: Holly Layman is a freelance writer based in the greater Los Angeles area. Connect with Holly at hkvlayman.com.