“Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success.” ~ Thought Leadership Lab
When someone is a thought leader in their niche, they have extensive or specialized knowledge of their subject matter. This is important because people choose to spend money on products or services promoted by someone they consider a thought leader. As an entrepreneur building your credibility as a thought leader will have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. Your target audience will be attracted to you even before they make the first purchase and quickly become a warm target rather than a cold one.
Here is an example. If you wanted to buy a book about real estate, would you buy one written by John Doe or one written by Barbara Corcoran? If you really wanted to know the insider secrets for buying and selling real estate, you will buy from the know expert in the industry. You don’t have to be celebrity or a Shark to be known as a thought leader. On the contrary, many entrepreneurs position themselves as thought leaders in their niche and you can achieve this status in your niche. It will involve a deliberate plan of action and some time. Along the way you need to consciously set goals and analyze your results.
The first step on your way to becoming a thought leader is to present yourself as a professional. You need to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” as the popular saying goes. This means looking and sounding like an expert and presenting yourself professionally. In order to be considered a thought leader you need to claim it and own it. You can do this several ways.
Social media is a popular and effective way to grow your credibility as a thought leader. Make sure your reputation on social media is always professional. Use professional language and images. Even the web becomes a small world and that prized business contact will find those items you post that are not a credible part of your professional image. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t want a potential client to know it, don’t post it.
Be aware of the language you use. First of all, you want to know that whomever you are communication with understands your message. If you use slang, jargon or tech speak, your message may not have the intended result. It is also not a good ideal to curse, use slang or be too lackadaisical. This may be construed as not caring. It doesn’t matter if you are responding to an email, talking on the phone or being interviewed on a podcast, use professional language.
Remember that un-flattering picture from the last conference you attended? It is definitely not what you want potential clients to see. Take care that any photo you share, publish or use in marketing material portrays you in the most professional light possible. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie in all your photos. It is important on social media especially, to come across as “real.” Just don’t make it too real!
Speaking of social media, you should also present yourself as friendly. When you ask someone to follow you, send a personal message telling them why you would like to connect and what you are all about. Express interest in knowing them as well. Be sure to follow the social networks “rules” for sending direct messages – they all a little different.
Step out of your box and put yourself in places you can learn, grow and meet people that will expand your horizons. Growing your network is an effective method of establishing your reputation as the go-to person for information in your niche. Your goal should be to help others not necessarily making a sell. If you concentrate on giving your knowledge freely you will find this will ultimately grow your business.
No one likes someone who “toots their own horn” all the time. You should strive to be a problem solver. Make every conversation about the other person. Find out what they do and what they know instead of bragging about yourself. When you ask others questions you will find their pain points. Then you can analyze how you can help them. Reach out to help ease their pain points and you will quickly become a thought leader.
As an entrepreneur, you probably already do many of these things. Step back and see what areas you need improve upon. Look to see if you are always being professional and putting your best foot forward. Analyze your communications, both written and spoken to see if you need to improve how you are communicating. Do you present yourself as a thought leader at all times? If you are falling short in any of these areas, take action now to improve.