There are myriad ways in which professional people can demonstrate thought leadership and in doing so, boost their profile and reputation within the industry or marketplace in which they operate.
The emergence of the social web can help immeasurably, but age-old techniques such as storytelling and face-to-face engagement are also powerful tools in the thought leader’s arsenal.
Wondering how you can add some spark to your personal brand? Here are four ways to get going:
ONE – Focus on developing your platform.
Start a blog or video or podcast series and contribute to it weekly, publishing content that educates and informs, empowers and/or inspires. Extend the reach of your work by guest posting on other people’s blogs as well as the more established industry websites in a bid to drive traffic back to your content ‘home base’.
Integrate your social networking channels and start actively and strategically participating on them, cross promoting your content every now and then. Over time you will build a following for your work and ideally people you’re connected to will start sharing your content; this will not only extend your reach but also build positive word-of-mouth for your thoughts and ideas, and help fast track your reputation as an authority the marketplace trusts, recognises and respects.
TWO – If your audience is largely made up of people in business or working in the corporate sector, make LinkedIn a priority.
There are now around 300 million LinkedIn members globally (some 5+ million of which are in Australia); anecdotally and from my observations, since its redesign the site has become a lot more social and interactive.
LinkedIn is more than just a place to collect contacts – take a deeper dive, share other people’s updates as well as provide your own; join industry groups and contribute questions, answers and ideas; consider publishing observational ‘mini-posts’ to LinkedIn’s new blogging platform. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure your profile does the professional ‘you’ justice and accurately reflects your personal brand!
THREE – Throw yourself into Twitter!
If you’re anti-Twitter because you think it’s all about people taking photos of what they ate for breakfast or lunch, get over it! Twitter is an awesome platform for growing your personal and professional networks and connecting with people who in all probability you may not get the chance to meet in real life.
Again, it’s a matter of getting in and being involved – the more you participate, the more you will get out of it in terms of building relationships with people that will invariably over time lead to social and business opportunities in the long run. If you want to be a thought leader in your space, Twitter is an indispensable forum on which to demonstrate your knowledge and share your ideas, as well as help people. Which brings us to our next point …
FOUR – Be of service to others.
This tip is more attitudinal than anything, and plays off the above ‘technology-based’ suggestions.
Use your knowledge and experience to help others, whether it’s a blog post that solves a problem people might be having in an area where you can add value, a video of you shedding light on a particular issue facing your industry, a podcast interview with a relevant expert in their field, answering people’s questions on LinkedIn, uploading a PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare, publishing an information-packed free downloadable PDF ebook, or using social networks to shine the light on other people whether you’re retweeting them or sharing their content and their links on the likes of Facebook or Google+.
Don’t be shy. Get out amongst it – active participation has its rewards! Don’t hoard information, be generous in giving it away! Share your knowledge and ideas and yes, your ‘IP’. If you have thought leadership aspirations, being of service to others (publicly on social media as well as privately) will build a strong base for your professional reputation ongoing.