Thought leadership has helped a lot of business leaders to boost their brand, create a loyal following and grow their business.
To some entrepreneurs like myself, we have been able to work with, consult for and sit on the board of businesses earning in millions because of the respect they have for our ideas and opinion.
It’s normal for a lot of entrepreneurs to dream of becoming thought leaders but usually, beyond the ambitions, it takes a lot to actually become one.
As someone without a well known brand or experience, it can become even harder to evolve an exceptional brand as a thought leader.
Notwithstanding the new comers’ challenge, there are strategies that has worked for others before you. I mean strategies that other new comers have used to build an incredible brand as a thought leader, faster than they thought possible.
Over the years, as someone who’s helped a large number of small businesses and freelancers online, here are some of the beginner thought leadership strategies that have worked for me and many others, over the years.
How to Become a Thought leader in any niche
Before we get started, one of the first things you have to do to build a brand as a thought leader in any niche is to 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…
Have a Goal
The first step towards becoming a thought leader in your niche is to have a set goal.
Begin with asking yourself, WHY you want to become a thought leader in the first place.
Asking this question is very important because it gives you an idea on what to shoot out for and how to plan going about it.
If your thought leadership goal is to build a brand that will be able to consult for leading companies then your strategy might 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 always important you set out your goal 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
A lot of aspiring thought leaders start out with zero plans and an inconsistent system.
To become a successful thought leader 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
After setting out your goal as a thought leader, the next thing you want to do is to create a plan or let’s call it a strategy to 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, you should understudy the industry or your niche to know what’s working.
Work on knowing the important metrics that matter in your niche. For instance, 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 good knowledge of what other established thought leaders are doing, you can easily evolve a strategic plan that will work for your brand.
Then with your plan you should be able to set up things like posting schedules, content development schedules 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, the next thing to do in order to build thought leadership is to build your brand.
Do this carefully. Building a brand can be both tedious and simple.
One thing you must have in mind is that authenticity is what will define you as a thought leader.
So, no matter how much you admire leading 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.
So if you want to become a thought leader as a start up coach for instance, set up your brand messaging in a way that it clearly appeals to this audience.
Besides doing this, you should also note that other elements of branding like your vision, mission and even your brand voice should reflect their needs and appeal to their aspirations.
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.
Your aspiration as a thought leader should be towards creating an original brand that will make you stand out from the crowd.
After your brand has successfully been created, the next thing you have to do is to create an online presence for your brand if you didn’t have one already.
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 the social media, build a platform for your brand. Like a personal website. Make it stand out and well distinguished.
Content is the hallmark of thought leadership. The ideas wrapped around your content are what makes you known, listened to and adored.
You cannot become a thought leader without creating content but you can create content without becoming a thought leader.
So as a thought leader, you have to be very intentional about the content you create.
Whatever content you create should 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.
Add your own narrative to the content in a way that your content gets 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.
Learn new ways of doing things. Spice up your content with strategies that are unique to you 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 unique 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.
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 it’s necessary. In marketing, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Every publicity can be harnessed for your own good.
Make your Voice Heard
The truth is, if you’re not being heard then your opinion doesn’t count. So as a thought leader, you don’t just have to be heard, your opinion should count.
That is why you have to get yourself out there, in order to be 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 help you 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 idea.
Even when you may not get opportunities to be featured, published or interviewed whenever you send a pitch, keep doing your thing.
Go back to the plan you wrote down, earlier in step two.
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 just this. They create content and show up only when they feel like it.
Truth is, this doesn’t make sense. It won’t help or fast track your journey towards becoming a thought leader.
For you to create an impression on the minds of your audience, you have to show up again and again.
Of course creating consistency can be difficult from the get go. Especially as a beginner without a team to work with.
As a thought leader, I’ve personally had to face the issue of inconsistency for a long time.
Most time the things responsible for the inconsistent posting was because I had more than a handful to deal with at a time.
To create a more consistent posting timeline for your audience, there’s need to 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 instance, 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.
At the end of the day, you should be so consistent that your audience would know when to expect your content and probably the kind of content to expect at a particular time. This is important.
Here’s where we’ll stop in today’s tutorials on how to become a thought leader in your niche.
So which of these steps really made sense to you?