“Thought leadership” is a big buzzword in the business world right now, and it’s easy to see why it’s become such an important focus for leaders. When others look to you for your expertise and insight, you can become a leading, recognized voice in your industry.
But what does it take to become a thought leader, and what actionable steps can you take toward that goal? We asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share some specific factors that define an industry thought leader and what actions people can take to start stepping in the right direction. They shared their responses below.
1. Start Creating Content To Share Your Thoughts
You have to be willing and able to share your thoughts and expertise in a coherent and concise way that appeals to the readers or listeners. One action that people can take is to just start, even if it’s writing a short paragraph to post or recording a short video. Don’t be afraid to take the first step. It takes practice and you will get better over time if you keep at it. – Diana Goodwin, MarketBox
2. Be Consistent
To become a thought leader in your industry it’s important to have consistency. When you’re starting out, maintain a steady flow of content creation, whether that be via blogs or a podcast. Identify industry blogs where you can become a regular contributor or create a podcast and release weekly episodes. The key is consistency. – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
3. Go Into Detail
Establish credibility—and I don’t mean by touting your accomplishments. Being a thought leader is about bringing people behind the curtain. Show them what has worked for you and what failed. Give them gritty, granular, tactical detail and watch them follow along. – Codie Sanchez, Contrarian Thinking & Entourage Effect Capital
4. Answer Questions No One Else Is Answering
Answer the questions no one else is answering. Instead of merely dishing out your ideas and thoughts, engage back in the conversation. If you review content in your niche industry and find that in the comments and feed people are asking questions repeatedly, be the one to answer them. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
5. Develop A Clear, Authoritative Point Of View
The most important step to becoming a thought leader in your industry is having a clear, authoritative point of view. If you are not sure about or can’t articulate your thoughts, you will not become a voice people can look to or trust. Since industries change all the time, it’s important to constantly educate yourself if you want to be a thought leader. – Brittany Hodak, Keynote Speaker
6. Stick To Your Specific Message
Find a specific message and stick to it. The best thought leaders are known because they stick to a specific message and thus make it easier for people to discern what it is they do and why they’re doing it. For instance, Simon Sinek is well known for asking “why.” He brings it up a lot. His entire business philosophy and work revolve around it, in fact. – Andy Karuza, LitPic
7. Practice Self-Reflection
Self-reflection is important across all areas of life and thought leadership is no different. If you can’t sit down and analyze your own thoughts, actions and behaviors, you’re going to have a hard time sharing ideas with others. I suggest taking some time to reflect every day. This practice will help you become more self-aware, which will help you see the big picture when thinking broadly. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
8. Share Your Knowledge
A great way to do this is through getting articles authored by you published in industry publications. In order to do this, though, you have to ensure the content is high quality, professionally edited, non-promotional and actually provides something of value to the target audience. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
9. Use Simple Language To Provide Value
Using simple and casual language as well as answering customers’ questions are things that have helped us stand out in our market. People are often confused and looking for step-by-step ways to build a website. The language and details we provide give users value, which is what I believe has helped us grow in our space. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
10. Post On Multiple Platforms
Becoming a thought leader requires undeniable expertise and an omniscient presence. You can’t just post on one platform. People should be able to see you answering their questions via many different channels. So my advice is to try as much as you can realistically handle and be present in all the places where you get traction. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
11. Put Yourself Out There
Put yourself out there and connect with as many people in your industry as possible. If you look at any niche, the thought leaders aren’t necessarily smarter than your average expert. The differentiator is that they know the right people and have access to the right platforms to share their message and knowledge. Get on podcasts, participate in groups, create content and connect with influencers. – Travis Jamison, Smash.vc