There are lots of different definitions of Thought Leadership out there. You may already be doing some of these things.
Noticing interesting things.
One simple definition is that a thought leader notices and comments on ideas and themes that are of interest to their niche – and comments consistently over time in such a way as to develop an audience for themselves, their company or their brand.
It’s about establishing a relationship with and delivering something of value to your clients and customers that aligns with your values. By doing this you go beyond selling a product or service and establish yourself as an expert in that field. This makes people think about you differently in significant ways.
They get to like your point of view and look out for the contributions you make.
One of the great things about thought leadership is you don’t need to be well-known or famous in order to establish yourself. You can start in tiny ways and build this up over time. What do you notice each day? What do you find yourself sharing on Facebook and Twitter? Is there a consistent theme to this? One component of thought leadership is the consistency of what you share.
Storytelling is important. A great story will allow your customers to connect with you and your values. If they connect with your values, you’ll get the empathy you need to build trust. When you get the trust, your customer is closer to the point where they will buy – and when the trust turns to loyalty they will keep coming back – not just the once, but over and over.
Engaging with a variety of learning styles.
Do you like sharing audio, video or narrative (articles and links to things that others have written)? Many thought leaders choose a specific form of sharing – podcasts, say, or videos on a YouTube channel. Or, you can blend what you do across all learning styles – this can be quite a successful technique to build an audience quickly.
Creating Original material.
To become a top notch thought leader, you must work towards creating original material – the very best bloggers work on this principle – and don’t just write about themselves or their own product/output. They have an opinion – or interview others and share a range of opinion around a topic.
If success to you comes from the knowledge that you are making a contribution, helping change the world, creating pleasure, alleviating pain, creating a sense of wonder – any or all of these things – you are exactly the sort of the person the world will reward in direct proportion to the contribution you make.
People often say to me, ‘why do you share so much – aren’t you worried people will steal your ideas?’ Hmmm…for me, it’s a no-brainer…isn’t sharing the currency of our humanity, of culture, of love?
Best wishes – Pete