Whilst there have always been people who are seen as experts in their fields, the social media age has given rise to an entirely new level of business celebrity: the thought leader.
Thought leaders are recognised as being an authority within a specialised area, ranging from HR and sales, to robotics, creative marketing, finance and cloud computing. Not only is their insight and advice closely followed by huge numbers of social media users, they will also be asked to speak at events and join high-profile companies for webinars and podcasts, often for a substantial fee. This makes thought leadership a hugely satisfying role as well as a potentially lucrative career move.
It’s easy to believe that to be a thought leader you first need to own an enormous company, such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. It’s true that being the CEO or founder of a global business will help you to get people’s attention more quickly, but rest assured that anyone can establish themselves as a thought leader as long as they take the right approach. If the information that you share is innovative, passionate, useful, intelligent and well written, combined with savvy use of social media and active networking, you could soon find yourself influencing likeminded professionals around the globe.
What’s more, building your presence as a thought leader will greatly help your own business to flourish, as the mass exposure has an enormously positive impact on brand reputation, lead generation and the closing of sales. As long as your voice remains consistent and your content is always worthwhile, you could find that being a thought leader results in your company’s turnover increasing exponentially.
If you think you have what it takes to be a thought leader but need a little help getting started, here are some top tips.
If you want to become a thought leader simply for the fame, you probably won’t succeed. There needs to be something far more fundamental to it than that, such as a dedication to teaching, a passion for inspiring others, or a five-year plan to propel your business to new heights.
When you’ve worked out the “why”, it’s then that the “what” (the style and format of your thought leadership) becomes much clearer, such as deciding whether you want to focus entirely on LinkedIn articles and social media posts, or branch out into videos, podcasts, white papers, events and consultation.
As with any new project, you can’t just jump into it headfirst without a plan. Being a hosted desktop reseller, you already know which area of business you can talk about, but there’s much more to it than that.
The difference between people who post a lot of articles that are mostly ignored and those who make it as thought leaders is uniqueness and necessity – all of your content needs to stand out from the crowd and be based on topics that will immediately inspire. Sharing tips that have been around for years or ultra-specific themes that apply to very few people certainly won’t grab attention.
Before you begin to send your thoughts out into the world, you first need to ensure that all of your digital channels look the business. This involves going through your LinkedIn profile with a fine-tooth comb and updating or strengthening any areas that are out of date or lacking depth. The same goes for your other social media channels, which might require a little pruning – if there are posts from months or even years ago that no longer fit your personal brand, it might be worth deleting them. And of course, your profile picture and any images that you use need to be of the highest quality.
Then there’s your communication style, which goes way beyond spellchecking and consists of numerous factors. For example, is your voice friendly, no-nonsense or disruptive? Do you use humour and profanity or steer clear of the two? Do you want to gently influence your readers or shake them by the shoulders? All of these elements should be decided before you begin, as although your voice will most likely change gradually over time, it needs to be recognisable during the early stages so that it breeds trust.
Even if your ideas are top-notch and your writing style is truly engaging, there will be many professionals who demand evidence of your authority. Where possible, giving detailed examples of your achievements to elucidate a point will work wonders, such as explaining how hosted desktops helped one business to enable effective remote working, whilst another managed to significantly reduce its environmental impact by switching to thin clients.
If you ask your customers permission for you to share their stories, it’s very unlikely that any will decline the opportunity of some free advertising. In the process, you can gather testimonials that can be used across your marketing channels, plus photographs of you on their site are a very nice touch.
If you follow any thought leaders yourself, you’ll notice that they openly accept when their viewpoint has changed. However, this is rarely an admission of error, but rather an educated and perceptive explanation of how a certain area of business has changed over the years.
Luckily for you, the benefits of hosted desktops have remained constant, including a fast and reliable access to files, the opportunity for remote working, a reduced carbon footprint, and industry-grade security. Still, if you start your reputation talking from one point of view and it slowly shifts in line with industry developments, make sure to acknowledge this in a way that fuels interesting conversations.
Last but by no means least, a thought leader will only excel if they engage both ways with their audience. Any questions, comments and arguments should be responded to in a way that matches your usual voice and style, expanding on topics where possible. In fact, it’s these digital conversations that can propel a writer into the heady heights of thought leadership, so ensure that you can dedicate time each day to checking interactions and answering all queries.
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