I am not a fan of the phrase “thought leadership,” but I have yet to come up with a better term, so here we are. It’s why I titled this blog “I’m Kind of a Big Deal,” it gives off some serious narcissistic vibes. Basically, it means a person has a unique perspective and insight on certain subject matters that inspire or influence others. Hmm…maybe Subject Matter Experts is better?
If you’re interested in becoming a thought leader, get ready to put in the work. It’s taken me 20+ years to establish myself as someone that knows what the hell they’re talking about. Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration…but the longer you work at it, the more opportunities will come your way.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
I’m going to jump right to the part where I tell you how to do it, I’ll “circle back” with another blog on why it’s important. For now, let’s get to the meat of the matter. I realized after typing that, how wrong it is, but that is a typical Bode-ism, so I’m gonna leave it.
Get to Work
We just started working with a client whose business revolves around consulting and he wants to raise his profile to bring in more clients. I was brutally honest. I told him he’ll need to make this a priority and to be ready to create a shit ton of content – which we would more than likely be writing, but we still need his eyes on it.
It all starts with content.
- Social – posts, shares, interacting
- If your company serves a certain industry, then attend events that attract those companies. Talk to people, hand out business cards and send them a note that says, “Hey, it was great to meet you and learn about [insert something interesting they said here]. I’m looking forward to connecting at the next event!”
- Join a board, or organization, volunteer…do something. Part of thought leadership is building a network and constantly growing and cultivating it.
- If I am asked to speak, I do it. Even if it isn’t the right audience, practice makes perfect. My first speaking engagement was at a nursing home. I can count on one hand the people in the audience who stayed awake. Boy was that humbling.
Be a Connector
- Mutually beneficial relationships are really a thing, but everyone’s doing it wrong. When I am tarlking to a potential client, I don’t send them a LinkedIn message and then pat myself on the back for a job well done. That is lazy. You are lazy. I figure out how to provide value to that company/person, like free publicity or a ticket to an upcoming event. Sometimes I send a handwritten note that congratulates them on a recent accomplishment. Did you notice what is missing from my list? I didn’t ask them for anything. I gave instead.
Amplify Your Message.
Let’s say you’re attending a conference.
- Did you post on LinkedIn that you are attending the conference?
- Have you tweeted any of the sessions?
- Did you check in on Facebook?
- How about a blog recap when you return home?
- You can be all the things a thought leader needs to be, but if you’re invisible, it means nothing.
- It’s not a spray-and-pray approach. What do you want to be known for? You’re not going to join the Girl Scouts of America board if you’re focused on the defense industry.
As Jeffrey Gitomer said, “If they like you, and they believe you, and they trust you, and they have confidence in you…then they may buy from you.”