One of the top reasons people aspire to become a thought leader is because thought leadership can boost your influence, improve your recognition and advance your career in the right direction.
It has also nudged many unknown voices to beat the system and become well known influencers, entrepreneurs and business vendors.
So, for you, thought leadership presents a unique opportunity to evolve the kind of influence that will change your life in a massive way.
For some entrepreneurs like myself, thought leadership presented us an opportunity to work with, consult for and sit on the board of businesses earning in 7 figures and beyond, because of the respect they have for our ideas and opinion.
Although becoming a thought leader without a well known brand can be difficult, there are certain secret steps you can take to get started on your journey and I will be listing out some of these steps in the following paragraphs.
Choose a Niche
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Before we get started, one of the first things you have to do to become a thought leader in any niche is to first of all, choose a niche you’ll like to build your brand.
As soon as this is sorted, you can then work on following the steps below to become a thought leader in your chosen niche…
Set a Goal
To become a thought leader, one of the preliminary steps you have to take is to get your goals sorted out correctly.
So, you want to begin with identifying why you want to become a thought leader in the first place and then the desired result you want to achieve.
Taking this step is very crucial because it gives you an idea on what to lookout for and some guidelines on how you can plan your way to actually achieve this.
So, if your thought leadership goal is to build a brand that consults for leading companies then your strategy will be slightly different from someone whose goal is to earn a political position as a leader of thought.
From shaping your brand story telling, to influencing your voice as a content creator, your thought leadership goals will affect everything you do as a thought leader
That’s why, it is important you set out your goals clearly from the onset. Understand where the journey is going and with this you’ll be able to craft a strategic plan that will get you on track.
Create a Plan
Successful thought leadership takes work. Unfortunately, a lot of aspiring thought leaders start out with zero plans and an inconsistent system.
To become a thought leader successfully; as a beginner, you need a well structured plan that will direct your daily activities. Something you can always look up to, to measure your success. This is where having a working plan comes in
Now that you’ve identified your goals, as a thought leader, your next line of action is to create a plan or let’s call it the strategy you’ll work with.
Usually, your plan is not supposed to be anything elaborate. It should be a collection of strategies and a step by step process that will get you towards your goal.
Let’s say your goal is to become a thought leader as a start up coach in X industry in Y number of years…
Your plan should capture the things you will do in between the period leading up to your targeted time line.
Before setting up your plan, understudy the industry or your niche to know what’s working.
Work on knowing the important metrics that matter in your niche. For example, the kind of content your audience prefers, the best posting hours, the platform they go to, etc.
With a workable knowledge of this metrics and a fair understanding of what other established thought leaders are doing, you can easily evolve a strategic plan that will work for your brand.
With your plan you can then go ahead to set up things like posting schedules, content posting calendar etc. This will give you something to work with.
Build your Brand
Assuming you now know your goal and you’ve got a plan in place, your next step to become a thought leader is to build your brand.
Do this carefully. Building a brand can be both tasking and simple. So, you want to keep things as straight forward as possible.
One thing you must have in mind is that authenticity is what will define you as a thought leader. So, regardless of how much you admire other thought leaders in your niche; to become an authentic thought leader yourself, you have to bring in your personality to the fore.
As a beginner, you may not have a clear idea about what you want as a brand but the goal you want to achieve as a thought leader and your niche should be able to shape your brand aspirations.
So, if your goal is to become a thought leader as a startup coach for example, set up your brand messaging in a way that it clearly aligns with this.
Also, keep in mind that other elements of branding like your vision, mission and even your brand voice should reflect the needs and appeal to the aspirations of your target audience.
As a beginner it might be difficult to get this right from the onset. But to make things easy, you can check out other leading brands in your niche, find out what they are doing and use this to shape your own personal brand.
In any case, do not copy or lose your authenticity in the process of evolving a unique identity for your brand.
Create an Online Presence
After your brand has successfully been created, the next thing is to create an online presence for your brand if you didn’t have one already.
To get started on this, choose a social media platform or a handful of platforms that have a large number of your target audience. Don’t bother about being on all the social media platforms. Use the ones that give you the best result.
Ensure that your social media handles have the same names as your brand name, with the correct photographs, tags and other identity you want to be associated with your brand.
Beyond social media, you need a website to look more professional and authentic. By all means, get your website here. Make it stand out in a way that reflects your brand.
Content is the hallmark of thought leadership. The ideas wrapped around your content are what makes you known, listened to and accorded your well deserved respect.
You cannot become a thought leader without creating and sharing content but you can create content without becoming a thought leader.
There’s a mindset about content creation for thought leadership. So as a thought leader, you have to be very intentional about content creation and storytelling.
Whatever content you create must be in line with your thought leadership goals. They should be built around giving you the leverage to spread your ideas and become well known.
To get it right with content marketing as a thought leader, you have to create a content strategy that is in line with your goals and niche.
Work on creating valuable content that will add value to your audience. Put in time to research, create and share meaningful content that will distinguish you from the crowd.
Regardless of your industry, add your own narrative to the content in a way that your content gets you distinguished from the crowd.
Share your Unique Ideas
One of the ways to become an outstanding thought leader is to evolve ideas that are unique to you, spread and share them with your audience.
So you want to learn new ways of doing things. Innovate novel ideas, spice up your content with unique strategies and share it with your audience.
These are part of the hallmark of thought leadership.
Look up exciting conversations in your niche, add your own perspective to it. That’s what your audience wants.
You don’t need to have a popular opinion all the time. Your role as a thought leader is to be able to evolve new thoughts, ideas and opinion that will expand the conversation in your niche. That’s what sets you apart.
Outside this, you’re just like any other person, doing the same old thing.
PS: Do not worry about holding a minority opinion. Get popular topics from leading brands in your niche and spin your own narrative around it.
Don’t be scared to create controversy if necessary, provided it harmlessly serves your own good.
Make your Voice Heard
The truth is, if you’re not being heard then your opinion doesn’t count. So, if you’re planning to become a thought leader, you don’t just have to be heard, your opinion has to count.
That is why you have to get yourself out there, so you can get heard.
Like I mentioned earlier, to be noticed, you need an opinion that is distinguished. But beyond that you will need a platform where you can be heard.
For platforms, you can start with your social media platforms, your blogs, website, etc. But that’s not where it should stop.
Real thought leaders have their opinion heard and respected in many places beyond their personal platform. That’s why you’ll have to share your ideas on other platforms. This is very important.
Create an out reach plan that will spread your ideas. Things like guest blogging, collaboration etc can fit in really well right here.
As a beginner it might be a bit difficult to get platforms outside your own, where you can share your ideas.
But the more you get established, create great content, the better your chances of getting published on bigger platforms.
Also your ability to network with other influencers matters a lot. Be helpful to other thought leaders and aspiring thought leaders in your niche. Build connections.
With time, you can leverage such connections to advance your goals.
Write books. Ebooks, case studies and share ideas in your own distinct voice. As much as possible, pitch key media persons with your ideas, for PR purposes.
Go back to the plan you wrote down, earlier in step three.
One of the reasons I asked you to write out a plan is because you have to create some kind of synchronization and consistency in your post and other activities.
There’s nothing as bad as showing up inconsistently, once in a while or whenever you feel like it.
Unfortunately, a lot of aspiring thought leaders are still doing this. They create content and show up only when they feel like it.
Truth is, inconsistency does not make sense. It won’t help you to become a thought leader.
For you to create an impression on the minds of your audience, you have to show up again and again, consistently.
Of course creating consistency can be difficult from the get go. Especially for beginners without a team to work with.
As a thought leader, I’ve personally had to face the issue of inconsistency when it comes to creating and posting content, during my early days.
Overtime, i found that most times one of the factors responsible for the inconsistency was because I had more than a handful to deal with at the time. And I was not well coordinated.
To create a more consistent posting timeline for your audience, get better organized. Also, be more adept at time management so that you can have adequate time to create better content.
With some automated tools and marketing resources around, you can schedule or automate some of your tasks. With this, you will save up time for other activities.
For example, instead of showing up to post on your social media all the time, activities like social media posting and others can be scheduled with some of these apps while you focus on other things.
In everything you do, you have to create consistency. It helps a lot. From creating a consistent brand across your platforms, to showing up consistently and posting on regular days, you will gradually increase your KLT.
With the right strategy and effort, it’s possible to become a thought leader but following the steps outlined in this guide will get your journey to thought leadership, even faster.
So, in summary, at the end of the day; to really become a thought leader, you want to choose a niche, identify your goal(s), create a brand and a platform then get started on this journey.
But the question is, do you really plan to become a thought leader? If you do, then the ball is now in your court. And you can start with these steps right here. Or reach out to us here, to guide you on how to get started.
Now, it’s over to you! What’s been your biggest challenge on your journey to becoming a thought leader? Drop your comments below.