When you want your business and its offerings to stand out in the marketplace, there are numerous things you can do to gain traction in the industry and build an audience. This includes marketing strategies like clever business branding, advertising online or offline, blogging, giveaways, having a referral and/or rewards program, and more.
One other way to build your business, though, which not enough entrepreneurs focus on, is developing a personal platform. As the leader and likely founder and CEO of your venture, you are the one who knows your business best and is most passionate about what it offers. As such, you’re in the perfect position to become a thought leader in your field, an influencer who others pay attention to.
Getting to this point takes time and effort, but it’s a worthwhile investment that will help you to build credibility, reach, leads, and platform, amongst other things. Here are some tips to follow if you’re ready to go down the path of becoming a thought leader.
Choose a Specific Topic
With so many people and organisations clamouring for consumer attention these days, the only way you can truly make your mark is to choose a specific topic to specialise in. Ask yourself, what is your business niche, and on what exactly are you an expert? What are you passionate about more than anyone else, what do you value, and what do you love? In which area can you be a changemaker? And, just as importantly, what does your audience value, and where does the overlap lie between your interests and the consumers’?
Once you’re clear on this, you’ll understand what your personal brand must centre on. Remember that you need to find a precise, concrete area to focus on that differentiates you from other entrepreneurs. By becoming the industry leader on one particular topic, you’ll be more likely to be heard above the noise. In turn, people will start coming to you for information, advice, quotes, and for the services your organisation offers, because you’re known as the “go-to” thought leader.
Share Your Expertise
Of course, you must also share the expertise you have in a public forum. Create content such as blogs, videos, articles, books, talks, workshops, etc. (be as broad as possible in your outlets) where you educate others on what you know. Don’t focus on talking about yourself, though. It’s more effective to focus on helping others to succeed.
Develop “how to” content that gives readers, viewers, or participants not only insights but also action steps they can follow to get ahead. If you’re not sure where to start, think about the questions you and other people in your field get asked all the time. Any frequently-asked-question could give you a starting point. Be as helpful as you can, and you’ll soon start building a name for yourself as a thought leader.
For the most effective impact, always be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, or tone yourself down because you think being you in a public forum is dangerous. People respect, listen to and connect with experts who seem to “walk the walk” and who are approachable, natural, and real. They also, on the other hand, switch off from disingenuous people and content.
Think about it like this: you don’t want to build a personal brand based on someone else, do you? You want your profile to be about who you are and what you believe in, and how this can help others. Be yourself, and things will fall into place more easily.
Consistency is vital, too. For you to become a thought leader at the top of your industry, people have to remember you. They’re only going to do this is you’re consistent in the type of branding you convey. While a certain amount of testing and measuring is normal and needed, always try to ask yourself, before you share something publicly, if it is consistent with who you are and the way you want people to see you.
Consistency comes into play in the regularity of your content, too. People need to hear from you often to keep you front of mind, which means you should share information and ideas regularly. Create a content plan a few months ahead at a time, so you keep producing regular content and new ideas.
If you struggle with this, look at the topics being talked about frequently in the media. Find a way to tie your offerings and values into these relevant subjects. Journalists might even approach you for your viewpoints on topical matters, and help further propel your status as a thought leader.