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A thought leader is an individual who can guide, influence and inspire their peers based on their expertise, experience and unique perspective. Thought leadership is natural to many entrepreneurs, because it’s a part of their lifestyle. As thought leaders, they constantly develop new ideas and strategies to leverage and improve their industries, and they share these new concepts with others.
However, a person doesn’t attain thought leadership by simply possessing the basic qualities of a thought leader, such as deep expertise and the ability to find new approaches. To become a thought leader, one needs to consistently demonstrate and prove these characteristics to others. If there are only a few people who are aware of your bright ideas and excellent knowledge of the industry, you are not yet a thought leader. Additionally, the qualities of a true thought leader can and should be shaped and strengthened by practice.
If you are interested in becoming a thought leader, you have to put the effort in. Here are some tips you can use to attain thought leadership in your industry:
Become a mentor
Become a thought leader for at least one person with less experience. Entrepreneurship is not an easy road, so your advice will be highly appreciated by those who have just started their journey. You can find your first mentees among your friends or friends of your friends. Sometimes all it takes is to make a post on social media, but don’t simply stop at posting to your own feed; there are a lot of professional communities on LinkedIn and Facebook where you can offer your guidance.
Moreover, today there are online services that match mentees to mentors, and you can make a profile on one of those sites. Also, if you know somebody from a startup accelerator, you may ask them if they are looking for a mentor, and offer your candidacy.
Do online reputation management
Your online reputation determines how others see you through the lens of the internet. On a basic level, managing your online reputation may be as simple as having a thoughtful attitude toward your social media. Use these platforms as a tool to show your professional expertise, experience and opinions. In addition to writing your own posts, you may participate in discussions started by other users.
A broader approach to online reputation management may include creating a personal website, a YouTube blog and an audit. The latter means checking people’s perceptions of your personality based on your online presence. To conduct an audit, you may ask friends for help or hire a professional. An online reputation management consultant can save you a lot of time and effort and can prevent you from making mistakes.
Write guest posts
Becoming a columnist for a popular media outlet in your field of expertise is now easier than ever. Online magazines and blogs are always looking for high-quality content and will be grateful to you if you can provide some. It’s better to become a guest writer for the outlets you truly like and enjoy reading, but keep in mind that you may not be aware of many respectable media platforms, so do your research. Also, remember that such websites usually have a page with guidelines for guest posts that you need to follow for your contribution to be accepted.
Participate in fee-based entrepreneurial digital communities
Don’t hesitate to join fee-based digital communities for entrepreneurs, because they have a lot of opportunities for a person who is striving to become a thought leader. These are platforms where you can share your expert opinion and find an audience, and in such communities, you have the possibility to find your future mentees. Furthermore, in these communities, you can watch other entrepreneurs trying their hand at thought leadership, and learn a few things from them.
Participate in expert roundups
An expert roundup is a blog post or a feature in a mass media publication that gathers opinions on a particular topic from a number of experts. For instance, ten financial experts share their views on the future of fintech. The main profit that an entrepreneur can get from this is exposure. Imagine that there are eight people, including you, who are participating in an expert roundup, and each person shares the post on their social media. Sounds like a great outcome, and it will give you the chance to be noticed and improve your online reputation score. You can find calls for participants for such roundups on social media and platforms that connect journalists to newsmakers.
Try joining podcasts within your niche market
A recent podcast industry report from Insider Intelligence predicts that in 2024, there will be 504.9 million podcast listeners worldwide, compared to the current number of 464.7 million listeners in 2022. Podcasts have gained such popularity because they are a convenient way to learn new things while doing something else. Today, there are thousands of podcasts, and many of them are devoted to a particular topic. There’s definitely at least one podcast that suits the niche of your expertise, and its host is very likely interested in having new guests. Don’t wait for an invitation, and get in contact with them.
Pay attention to SEO
Whether you exclusively use social media or you also have a personal website, both are subject to search engine indexing. Honestly, SEO is not an easy thing to do on your own, so you probably should hire a consultant who can explain it to you, do some research and provide you with recommendations. People constantly use search engines, and it would be a win for you if they could see your posts or website when looking for information about your industry and your niche of expertise. One day, it may even be a journalist from a respectable magazine or an analyst of a venture fund who will find you by googling your field.
It’s important for entrepreneurs to establish themselves as thought leaders, because founders are expected to lead people, be it their teams or entire industries. However, having expertise and experience is just one part of what it takes to become a thought leader, because these people cannot be accurately defined as thought leaders if they are not noticed by their audience. Don’t neglect opportunities to showcase your knowledge, and create opportunities for yourself to attain thought leadership and receive all the benefits that come with it.