“A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” (Wikipedia)
Many people have expressed discomfort to me about calling themselves or even admitting to wanting to be a “thought leader” but many are fairly comfortable with wanting to be seen as a subject matter expert or someone whose advice is regularly sought by others. Notice that it doesn’t say you have to create original content. You just need to be recognized as an authority in your specialized field.
First – Pick your subject area
If you work with executive leaders, your subject area might be leadership. If you study best practices among successful start-up companies, perhaps that’s your area. If you’re a leader in the financial world you won’t be sharing any secrets that will get you in trouble with the SEC but there’s still a lot you can safely share! Maybe you’re an experienced trainer who is very knowledgeable about adult learning theory. Perhaps you’re a photographer, event planner or florist who loves to share best practices for those who might consider using those services.
TIP: You don’t have to write original material
Second – Collect online links to great resources
You can read an article and post it right away. This works great if you only find one article every day or so that’s worth posting. However, if, like many of us, you do a whole chunk of reading at one time, go ahead and copy that link to an RSS feed or bookmark it or simple keep a list somewhere. Go ahead and make a few notes about some of the articles that you’ve read and thought worth sharing (see “Third – Be a Curator”)
TIP: If you do a lot of reading in your field
Third – Be a curator
You may like reading a lot of content about your subject matter, including wading through the bad stuff to find the worthwhile. However, you do your followers a great service by sharing just the best and noting what’s worthwhile about it. I hate it when someone shares an article with me and doesn’t tell me why. Sometimes I’ve followed up to find it was a nugget of gold in the final paragraph or even an example of what not to do or that they intended it for others, not me.
TIP: You can use Hootsuite or another app to schedule your posts several weeks in advance (don’t use this approach if the things you share are very time topical (e.g. a company merger just announced or a dip in the financial markets)
Fourth – Read
If you read others’ posts about your specialized or related subject and like and/or comment. It’s a compliment to them that you’ve thought it worth liking and/or sharing (always good karma) but it’s also an opportunity to share their worthwhile posts with others beyond their network of connections who might be interested.
Fifth – Share relevant content with the right groups
There are topics which may be of interest to many/most of your followers. Some may not be of such general interest. You can pick and choose who you share with (all, specific groups, even individuals) or simply note in your comment when you share that this is likely to be of interest to who – e.g. I might mention that a specific post or article might be of special interest to the job seekers amongst my connections and followers or something specific to small business owners.
Sixth – Follow Influencers on LinkedIn
I want to see who you think is worth following. That helps me understand your influences and gives me ideas about who I might follow. Examples of Influencers include people such as Guy Kawasaki, Arianna Huffington, and Bill Gates. Check out LinkedIn’s recommendations for you for examples recommended for you. (to do that go to your home page on LinkedIn and click on the 3 dots above one of the posts. Clicking it reveals several options including “Improve My Feed: Get recommended sources to follow.” Once you click on “Improve My Feed” you are brought to “Follow Fresh Perspectives.” Here you will see all offered categories of content and individuals including influencers, channels, and media to follow. Choose a few.
Seventh – Write original content
This is usually the hardest thing for most people to do but if you have information/opinions/a vision that you think should be shared, consider doing this. If you buy content from companies that provide this kind of thing – perhaps for your newsletter, that’s fine – just make sure you make no pretense about it being your original content and add thoughtful commentary on it.
There are many ways to share your wealth of knowledge and expertise. These are just a few ideas to get you started. It’s good for your personal and professional brand. It’s also generous to share your wealth of knowledge.
I would love to talk with you about the benefits to you of being more active on LinkedIn to show your thought leadership and how I could help you with your professional goals. Please schedule a free 20-minute strategy consultation to see how I might be able to assist you.