ARE YOU A ‘KNOW-IT-ALL’ OR A ‘THOUGHT LEADER’?
Be honest with yourself and recognise that you don’t know everything. The goal of becoming a thought leader is not to be a ‘know it all’; it is to share experiences and expertise so that ‘others’ think of you as a leader.
You can be corralled into thinking of ‘others’ as your target market; your current and potential clients. In thought leadership, you need to expand this definition. You need to consider those who influence your market and can support you in building credibility and winning new business.
There are plenty of ways and opportunities to grow your profile – but it does take some thought. Here are some practical ways to get started…
IN THE WORKPLACE
Take and create opportunities in your workplace to develop leadership and grow your expertise:
- Mentor your team and juniors: as well as growing your own leadership capabilities, you will be supporting their personal growth, knowledge and the quality of service delivery by your firm.
- Present at staff training sessions: an opportunity to improve your confidence and profile, while supporting others. Always ask for feedback.
- Create and chair special interest groups: meeting and discussing these areas with other like-minded people will enable you to bounce ideas and generate new insights.
- Volunteer to be your firm’s spokesperson: for your specific area of expertise. This will enable you to build profile within and outside of your firm.
- Write for client newsletters: it doesn’t have to be onerous; speak from ‘experience’.
- Present at client events: now you’re gaining external profile too, while educating clients.
- Support your firm by providing them with the fodder that they need to promote you and your expertise: become every marketing team’s dream. Write articles, blogs, case studies, ‘how to’ guides and white papers, technical advice and tips, related to your area of expertise. Your marketing team will love you for it and be able to leverage your voice across the firm’s marketing channels.
Your workplace provides a great training ground and an extremely important environment to create and build relationships to increase referral opportunities.
IN THE MEDIA
Publications are often looking for expert commentary:
- Become a guest writer in publications that reach your audience: a regular gig builds your profile consistently over time and, in providing the publication with valuable content, you can support them to resonate with their audience too. The same is true for guest blogging.
- Develop relationships with media: either directly, or via your PR agency, target publications specific to your area of expertise. You’ll become their ‘go to’ source for commentary when your expertise is topical.
Being a published author provides you with credibility too.
IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY
- Present at conferences, training sessions and events: contact the industry or business association related to your area of expertise and build a relationship that will help you to get these kinds of engagements. You’ll be building your profile with your target market, as well as business partners, peers and industry, positioning yourself as the ‘go to’ expert amongst each group. Public speaking can be challenging, but you’ll improve over time. You’ll also be able to prepare and repeat the same presentation to different groups. This will save time in two ways; one is the preparation of the presentation, and the other is the large number of people who will be listening to you – a ‘one to many’ approach.
- Join a board or committee: work with industry and business associations that enable your expertise to make a difference.
- Attend events: if you’re not presenting, still go along. You will be networking with likeminded people you can learn from and share with, as well as those with whom opportunities will flow.
IN PERSON AND ONLINE
- Seek relevant networking events, social media groups and membership organisations: regularly attend, or post comments.
- Participate in social media: make sure to respond to feedback openly and cooperatively.
Building your profile as a thought leader (not a know-it-all) is all about connecting with your audience, building rapport and supporting meaningful relationships. Over time, and with regular effort, you’ll reap the rewards – some of them unexpected. New clients, new staff, invitations to events, speaker appointments, advice to government, new business, promotional partnerships, new investment …. are all opportunities that have resulted from supporting advisors to build their profile.