While branding can set you ahead of competitors, being a leader in your industry requires you to become a thought leader. Thought leadership, as the name suggests, involves being at the forefront of ideas in an industry, sector or subject. In practice, thought leadership can be more simply defined as the cultivation and expression of expertise. So, how can you cultivate and share your knowledge?
Chances are you are already more of an expert than you give yourself credit for simply because you spend so much time in managed services. You can stand out from the competition by finding and solving common problems in your industry or your clients’ industries. As you cultivate your creative problem-solving skills, you’ll build some ideas that can be shared with your customers, prospects and peers.
If you are already comfortable communicating publicly, you can jump right in; otherwise, starting small may be better. Writing an internal newsletter for your team, posting on LinkedIn or communicating with a small or familiar audience is a good way to practice.
Once you are comfortable sharing your ideas with others on a smaller scale, contributing articles for business journals is an excellent way to continue your thought leadership journey. As your writing and creative problem-solving improve, you can build an audience and, eventually, move on to more prominent publications.
While public speaking can be more stressful than writing articles, speaking at events is another way to build yourself as a thought leader. Public speaking tends to become less stressful with practice, so you can start small with smaller speaking events and build your audience over time.
Attending networking groups is another method of building a following as a thought leader, and unlike the above mentioned methods, there is no need to start small and work your way up. Networking allows you to find information about your sector, exchange ideas with other thought leaders and build your audience for any other media you produce. As you become a regular at networking events, these can also become speaking opportunities.
You build thought leadership with consistency. For the best results, you can mix and match these methods, use all of them at once or even mix them with different communication channels. While these different outreach methods can allow you to reach overlapping audiences, each new method you use will likely reach new people. Above all else, be patient and enjoy the process.