LEADERSHIP / FEB. 11, 2014
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How to Become a Thought Leader

The concept of thought leader is the greatest form of praise, and perhaps the hardest title to earn. The Oxford English Dictionary defines thought leader as someone “whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential”. Being a though leader does not merely involve being good at what you do, but being on the absolute cutting edge of your industry, by radically changing ideas.

What differentiates a normal leader and a thought leader is the latter’s ability to make his ideas go viral and multiply though networks of individuals who are thirsty for absorbing innovative ideas that will change their life.

Interestingly, thought leaders do not only generate weird, wacky and alternative ideas that work. They also have strong enough ideas, to go beyond the inside-baseball talk of their environments and educate the general public.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur, an employee, or a student – your ability to become a thought leader, will advance your success. Wonder how to become a thought leader? The following steps will shortcut the process.

Target Your Own Circle First

If you are a motivated entrepreneur, or executive, with an extensive network of experts in the same industry as you, then capitalise on your personal network, to begin establishing yourself as a thought leader.

Spend some time to make a list of acquaintances, who are in your professional circle. Jot down every person that crosses your mind and then separate your list into relevant categories: i.e. industry leaders, colleagues with existing online presence and super connectors etc. Assign each of the names on your list to these categories and exclude those that don’t feed.

The next step is to interview the people on your list in order to gauge their ideas and expertise and show these on your blog. Your interviewees will judge how smart you are, based on the questions you ask. Consequently, you need to show a witty interview format to elicit as much insightful information as possible.

Create a Snowball Effect

Building your content based on people you already know, offers you the advantage to get a built-in audience that will in turn start spreading your ideas to more people. These people will definitely share their interviews through social networking sites, email and other popular digital channels.

In addition to this, many will link back to them on their own websites, which will enhance your search engine ranking. Your visibility will gain momentum, as more and more prominent influencers in your field will follow you and spread your ideas around.  The result will be a snowball effect that will create awareness and even buzz about your knowledge and expertise in a matter of weeks. 

Create Timely, Relevant and Forward-thinking Content

To become an outstanding thought leader doesn’t necessarily take any particular professional writing or speaking skills. Thought leaders are indispensible, because they share their unique experiences in a creative and groundbreaking perspective.

As a thought leader, you ought to offer timely content, namely something that your audience can practically use immediately. Timely content can be something that can help them with a situation instantly, or something they can use to cope with tomorrow’s challenges.

On top of this, you should craft your message accordingly and relate it to your audience – their needs, likes, hobbies, etc. Storytelling is ideal in this case, as it keeps your audience engaged through the story, while disseminating an influential and relevant message.

Last but not least, forward thinking is in the core of thought leadership. It is essentially the ability to distill information through your past experiences and intuitively make meaningful predictions on the future.  

Becoming a thought leader can be a real slog, but building your audience through developing relationships with other influencers, will increase your chances of attaining the status of an expert whose ideas are worth spreading.

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