How to Become a Thought Leader in 5 Steps
Do you know what a thought leader is? Chances are, you follow several thought leaders in your industry or in other spaces you’re interested in. But have you ever considered becoming a thought leader yourself?
There are a lot of benefits to being a thought leader. You can set your own schedule, and people will value your time. However, this career path isn’t for everyone — there are drawbacks to being a thought leader, too.
This blog post breaks down helpful information on thought leaders, including how to become one if you think this is the right move for you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about thought leadership.
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What Is Thought Leadership?
A thought leader is a person (or a company) who is recognized as an expert in a certain field. Thought leaders are the go-to people in their space.
If you are a thought leader, people are looking to you in every situation, wanting to hear your opinion and input.
Thought leaders have a powerful position in society.
They’ve worked hard to reach their position, going through years of education and experience to gain people’s trust. And because of their innovative ideas and positive relationship with others, they’re poised to make a major impact in their area.
You probably already follow multiple thought leaders, even though you might not know it. One good example is Neil Patel. Patel is well-known as a digital marketer and entrepreneur. He’s one of the top voices in the digital marketing space.
Other names you might recognize include customer experience and digital marketing specialist Jay Baer; author and businesswoman Arianna Huffington; and Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week. These are all good examples of thought leaders.
Benefits of Being A Thought Leader
There are a few key reasons why being a thought leader can help you (and your personal brand). Here are some of the benefits you’ll be able to enjoy once you are established as a thought leader in your industry.
Your Time Is Valued
When you’re seen as a thought leader, people will pay more for your time. You’ll be able to earn money just because people want to hear your thoughts or pick your brain on a certain topic. Making money just for your thoughts is a pretty easy way to earn some cash.
People respect the opinion of thought leaders. They’ll want to know what you have to say because you are seen as an expert. This is a good feeling — and it’s also a good feeling to generate income by sharing your opinion.
You Set Your Own Schedule
Successful thought leaders are often entrepreneurs. They act as their own bosses, with nobody else above them.
Among other benefits, this gives thought leaders major flexibility in their schedules. They have the freedom to live out the other aspects of their life — such as travel, family, or pursuing hobbies — however they want.
Once you’ve put in the work necessary to become a thought leader, you can essentially live your life as you please.
You’re the Expert
Thought leaders are seen as the smartest person in the room. People pay attention to thought leaders. They want to know what you have to say because they genuinely look up to you and value your words. You’ve proved that you know what you’re talking about. And now you get to enjoy the feeling of being the go-to expert.
Drawbacks to Being A Thought Leader
It’s true that being a thought leader has a lot of benefits. However, there are drawbacks to this career choice, too.
You’re Constantly in the Spotlight
As a thought leader, everything you say and do is being watched. This adds a lot of pressure to your life. If you slip up and say or do something that’s not in your best interest, this could reflect badly on you, potentially causing major ramifications.
You Have to Stay Relevant
There are always going to be other thought leaders coming into your space. That’s why it’s so important for you to stay relevant — which can be a lot of work.
Thought leaders have to put in the effort to keep up with everything that’s going on. Thought leadership is a constant occupation. You’ll need to keep up with your audiences wherever they are, staying tuned into whatever subject you’re the expert on.
5 Ways to Help You Become A Thought Leader
Now that you know the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision on whether being a thought leader is the right choice for you. Ready to move forward? Here are five steps you can take to move toward becoming a thought leader in your field.
Improve Your Public Speaking Skills
The biggest thought leaders are also good presenters. They can communicate well, and they regularly give speeches to share what they know with other people. So if you want to become a thought leader, honing your public speaking skills is a great place to start.
Improve your public speaking by improving your confidence. If you don’t feel like you are a very confident speaker, try using visual aids to help get your point across. Present to a trusted audience first. And cut out filler words such as “so,” “like,” “um,” and “yeah.”
It’s also important to work on your stage presence. Engage your audience through a question or a joke. Use the entire stage, walking around so you can better speak to different areas of the audience. Your visual aids and how you dress will also make a difference in improving your stage presence.
Ultimately, the best way to become a better speaker is to practice. Book as many gigs as you can. Speak to a variety of audiences in a variety of settings. The more you speak, the better of a speaker you will become.
Write A Book
If you have a lot to say on a certain subject and you know what you’re talking about, write it down and share it with the world. Publishing a book takes elbow grease. But it’s an extremely helpful step toward becoming a respected thought leader.
The first step to publishing a book is to actually write the book. Think about a topic you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Then create an outline and start writing. You can find online resources to guide you through this process if needed.
Once your manuscript is ready, you have two options for publishing: traditional publishing, or self-publishing.
There are pros and cons to both. Traditional publishing is more difficult to break into, but much of the process is then handled for you.
On the other hand, while anyone can self-publish a book, you’ll have to do more work to market your title.
Whichever route is best for you, publishing a book is a great way to become a thought leader.
Publish Quality Content
Publishing content on platforms like a blog, a YouTube channel, or a podcast is a great way to promote yourself. When you put out content in a certain industry, this flags you as an expert in that space, helping you niche down and speak to a specific group of people.
As you put out content, it’s important to make sure you’re intentional with the type of content you share. All of the content you put out should have a purpose behind it. What’s more, it should be high-quality, signaling that you’re a professional that people can trust.
Your content should go everywhere online — your website, your social media platforms, and any other channels you can think of. Create a long-form piece of content such as a blog post and then work off of that content, repurposing it as snippets for platforms that need short-form content instead.
Attending networking opportunities can advance your thought leadership career. Whether in person or online, networking events are an excellent way to connect with people who might be able to make use of your thought leadership skills in the future.
Mastermind groups are another good tip when it comes to how to become a thought leader. Masterminds are composed of people in the same space who meet to learn from each other and help each other grow. These groups are great ways to gain accountability, peer brainstorming, and continued learning opportunities — all of which will be helpful for thought leadership.
Reach Out to Journalists
Get your name out there by reaching out to journalists, offering to add your expert opinion to stories. You can register with a platform like HARO, or Help A Reporter Out. These platforms match experts with reporters or writers looking for quotes. You can also reach out to reporters, journalists, or magazines individually, sending cold emails asking if they need an industry source. Being quoted as an expert is a major way to be viewed as a thought leader.
How to Become A Thought Leader
Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. But if you foster your social media presence, publish high-quality content, and seek out speaking engagements to share your innovative ideas, more people will start to take note of your industry presence. Eventually, you’ll be poised as a thought leader ready to take the business world by storm.
Start working towards becoming a thought leader today by downloading my free guide to Getting Your Ideas Across!
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.