People, associations, businesses, manufacturers, and other organizations need to take the following 7 steps to become a Thought Leader. At first, these may appear bewildering. However, by taking these steps, all interconnected and usually in this order, the momentum builds.
But before going further, let’s once again define what Thought Leadership is. Here’s a solid working definition:
A thought leader is an individual, company, or organization specializing in a specific field, industry, or trade. Their views are respected and widely believed to be credible, and their comments and perspectives are sought by others.
- Publishing. Publishing is essential for Thought leaders, whether individuals or organizations. Make a list of all the publications, consumer or trade, focusing on your industry or field. From here, review the editorial calendars of these publications, looking for areas on those calendars where you can contribute an article.
- Media relations. Ask yourself, why would the editor of this publication open her magazine to your article? The editor is interested in one thing: content that is valuable to the publication’s readers. When you approach an editor to contribute an article, make sure you realize this. Structure your “pitch” to focus on an industry challenge and how to address it.
- Insights. Along with publishing quality and valuable content in trade publications, Thought Leaders must share their insights on their websites as blogs or articles. What is important are the following three things:
- The blogs are six hundred words or more.
- They provide useful information that someone can learn from.
- They are search engine optimized (SEO). SEO is not complicated. What Google picks up today will not necessarily change tomorrow. Just learn SEO basics, and your posts will find their way into search engines.
- LinkedIn. Add a blog post on your website that links to your personal LinkedIn profile or company profile. Here’s why:
LinkedIn investigated the impact of Thought Leadership marketing on business generation. They concluded: brands that cultivate a culture of Thought Leadership reap greater sales than those that do not. Thought leadership is a powerful way to connect with decision-makers.
- Speaking engagements. Initially, you will need to look for all kinds of speaking engagements, virtual and in-person, to share your thoughts and perspectives. These may not be your target audiences; however, they can pay off in surprising ways. As mentioned in another post, I gave a talk to a chamber of commerce on effective cleaning during the pandemic. Unknown to me, there were six owners/managers of gyms that attended the presentation virtually. Within days, all six asked me to visit their gyms and suggest steps they could take to protect the health of their staff and their members. It proved lucrative.
- Benchmark. Before taking any actionable steps, decide on your KPIs — Key Performance Indicators. Start by investigating how much traffic your company website is receiving, how many followers you have on LinkedIn, or how many visitors you have to your LinkedIn profile or company page. These benchmarks are your KPIs and foundation; we build from here.
- Review. Once our strategy is in place and we have our benchmarks, give the program three months before seeing results. It will take at least this amount of time to determine what’s proving effective and what’s not. Interestingly, and as mentioned earlier, if the program is working, you will see that all the actionable steps are interconnected.
Getting more articles published often leads to greater web traffic. Greater web traffic, along with publishing blogs on your website, opens the door to speaking engagements. And most importantly, visitors notice your posts on LinkedIn — this is where your customers are.
It’s a journey, and it will not happen overnight. But with persistence, everything will fall into place.