A thought leader is seen as an expert in their field, with opinions and insight valued by others in their industry and industry leader. With so many different brands and entrepreneurs out there, earning this reputation isn’t always an easy feat. It takes patience to establish your credentials, gain valuable experience and be seen as an authority on a certain topic.
More than anything else, to become a thought leader, you need to come up with creative and impactful ways for your ideas to be heard. Here are five easy ways to establish credibility and grow your influence.
1. Identify your niche.
What areas do you specialize in? Start with a smaller niche that is easy to work your way into, and then focus on dominating within that area. For example, if you are an attorney, consider showcasing your expertise in one or two fields at first. Then start growing your influence and sharing your knowledge in other areas. This helps you establish credibility, develop a following and make it easier to grow.
2. Develop a personal blog.
When people type your name into Google, what pops up? Before you begin writing guest posts for other websites (more on that in a moment) start creating content on your own website. This will help you develop your voice as well as establish credibility on a topic.
Use tools such as Ahrefs and BuzzSumo to see what topics and keywords are trending in your industry leader. For example, are you a social media marketer with some unique campaign ideas that tie into an upcoming award show? Or maybe you’re a healthcare professional with some advice on a new disease that everyone is talking about on Twitter.
Choose a topic that you can offer a unique perspective on, and use your social media channels to share your content.
3. Write guest posts.
Remember those trends you were monitoring? These topics are also great ways to establish your credibility on other websites. Writing guest posts is an excellent way to establish expertise on a subject and earn backlinks to your website. Your goal should be to provide content that demonstrates your knowledge on a subject and provides value to the reader.
Some great places to reach out to with an idea for a guest post include trade magazines, regional papers, company blogs, mainstream news publications, review sites and general magazines. Think of the media outlets you check each day and the type of content that you’d like to see more of from these outlets.
Depending on your chosen outlet, this could mean weighing in on an industry trend or offering readers actionable advice. For example, if you are a veterinarian, you could write a guest post on best practices for vaccinations (for other veterinarians) or how to care for an ailing animal (for websites that the everyday pet owner reads).
4. Network with others.
We’re all busy, but that doesn’t mean that mingling with others in your industry should fall to the wayside! Try to attend networking events, such as conferences, mixers, power lunches and presentations as often as you can. Nothing replaces the value of getting face time with your peers, collecting new ideas, finding valuable new team members and learning what’s going on in your industry. You might even identify a valuable new partnership or collaboration that can grow your reach.
Networking includes social media as well. Pick one or two platforms that you enjoy the most and spend time every day interacting with others. This could mean sending a link to an influencer that they might find interesting or discussing a trending topic with another thought leader.
Remember, it’s not all about you! Take the time to like other people’s posts, leave thoughtful comments and share content that you find interesting. If you are too self-serving on social media, you’ll lose followers quickly.
5. Use HARO.
Now that you’re regularly writing your own content, make yourself a valuable resource for others! Receive daily PR leads by registering for a HARO account. Journalists, bloggers, and editors use this email subscription service to find sources that are willing to share their expertise, advice, and case studies.
Three times a day, you’ll receive an email with media requests broken down by category (i.e., business, healthcare, lifestyle, finance, technology). For example, a business reporter might use HARO to find executives who can offer business advice to fledgling startups.
The trick is to respond to leads quickly with unique, helpful advice that isn’t self-promotional. If chosen, you can end up featured in major publications like Inc. and Huffington Post. It’s an easy way to get your name out there and grow your credibility.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, becoming a thought leader in your industry can be a game-changer for your brand and self-confidence. Keep your voice authentic and stay true to your passions, and others will soon take notice.