Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader in 3 Easy Steps

As a savvy business owner, you’ve likely heard by now that a blog is one of the key ingredients to establishing thought leadership. Have you stopped to consider what this term actually means, let alone how to achieve it? Thought leadership is one of those nebulous terms that businesses like to throw around a lot, but without a working definition it can be just another corporate buzzword. Knowing what constitutes thought leadership is the first step in determining how to use your blog to establish it.

What Is Thought Leadership?

The definition of thought leadership varies from expert to expert. Some of the more common definitions include:

  • A person who is a trustworthy resource for industry-relevant information among colleagues and peers –Jake Dunlap, CEO of Skaled, a sales consulting firm
  • Someone who recognizes and acts on trends before they happen to achieve measurable business success — Numaan Akram, founder and CEO of Rally, a coordination firm for crowdsourced travel
  • A person who not only lives on the cutting edge of their industry, but also inspires and influences others in the field – Walt Rakowich, leadership and motivational speaker

In other words, a thought leader is not only someone who thinks about business in an innovative way, but also puts those ideas into action. Thought leaders similarly encourage others in the field to be better and improve their own business practices. For a true thought leader, the competition is not an enemy, but a chance to learn and make business better.

How To Establish Thought Leadership

Is thought leadership a stagnant quality, something that people either have or they don’t? While leadership can be an innate quality, anyone can hone these skills over time. With regard to your business blog, no one can achieve thought leadership status through a single post, social media update, or other piece of content. Rather, you build a reputation as a thought leader over time, slowly creating an atmosphere of credibility and knowledge.

Unsurprisingly, this is a process that takes dedication, hard work time, and the ability to listen to and learn from others in your industry. Take a few steps to establish thought leadership for your own blog.

  1. Never Stop Learning

True thought leaders never stop innovating, and to do that, they must never stop learning. Keep a list of relevant blogs to your industry, keep up on professional news and announcements, and do your best to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your field. Learning what’s going on better equips you to handle the next essential aspect of thought leadership:

  1. Differentiate

Chances are there are many like-minded professionals out there also seeking thought leadership. In order to establish yourself as a true leader, think about what makes you different from the competition.11

Portent Interactive, helmed by Ian Lurie, makes for a compelling example. Marketing firms are becoming a saturated corner of the digital marketplace these days, and thought leaders take the daring stance that helps you stand out. Portent’s daring stand? Embracing the weird within all of us: “Show your audience you know them…and that you’re their kind of weird,” their website declares.

Their own content management strategy follows in the same vein, drawing smart conclusions using punchy allusions to Tom Cruise and more. It’s utterly readable and, well, different.

Find what makes you stand out. It might not be weirdness or witty repartee, but something makes you different from the competition. Find it, and leverage it.

  1. Give Your Audience Actionable Insights

Finally, what gives your blog thought leadership is not only the thoughts themselves, but how your readers can act upon them. A trusted source of information does more than define topics or explaining abstract ideas, it shows fellow readers how to put them into practice. Each blog post you right should motivate a response within your reader, whether it’s giving them a helping hand with a how-to or shedding light on an industry pain point.

No matter your industry, your genuine interest and passion for helping others should shine through. If you can accomplish that, you’re well on your way to being a trusted source of information.

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Thought Leader?

If you want to be a thought leader, you need the following:

  • A willingness to learn. True leaders recognize that the quest for knowledge is never-ending.
  • An ability to differentiate. Know what makes you stand out from the competition.
  • A desire to teach others. Finally, providing actionable insight for readers cements you as a trustworthy source of information.

Establishing thought leadership will naturally garner more traffic to your website and lead to positive business outcomes. It will also improve your business reputation, both to industry professionals and your customers. Apply these tips to improve your thought leadership and drive traffic to your blog.

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Sarah Voigtman

Sarah is a native Michigander and mother of three. She spends her spare time searching for the perfect burger recipe and navigating the tumultuous waters of parenthood.

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