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Thought Leadership – What it is and Why it matters          

Thought leadership is a term most business owners have heard from time to time. You only need to be a TEDx fan to see how many thought leaders are heard around the globe each day.

Or perhaps you marvel at a person in your industry who seems to be everywhere! How do they do it? How did they become a thought leader?

When you're looking for ways to promote your business, you'll hear, ‘Produce content your audience wants and become a thought leader in your industry'. So, you produce content yet still don't feel your hitting that ‘thought leadership' fandom that people talk about.

What's the go?

How to define a successful thought leader     

Thought leadership is the ability to put your unique spin on your expertise and become known for your original thoughts and conclusions.

Sure, you may be one of the thousands in your industry who share similar knowledge, but what makes you unique? What's your angle that adds your personal spin to connect with others?

For example, there are hundreds of branding experts out there.

But you'd know I have specific thoughts and beliefs on playing big and branding bold, how to build a powerful brand in the market, how to connect with your audience, and how to speak confidently in public. How do I make this uniquely my own?

Well, for a start – there is only 1 me, and I'm always consistent with my branding, content and voice!

I add my unique flavour by openly sharing my experiences and what I've learned to connect with my audience.

You'll find that thought leadership becomes more than sharing your expertise in your unique way. Thought leadership is powerful when you 100% believe in yourself.

It becomes more than having amazing knowledge, but that you've formulated the way you want to talk about it. And you believe you can genuinely help someone else.

You can build products and services based on your thought leadership  

When someone masters the art of being a thought leader, they often restructure their business to offer products or services purely based on their thought leadership fandom.

It's one of the benefits of articulating and developing your thought leadership. You know what your audience wants and that they respond to you, so you can create a business structure that suits that.

For example, you may:

  • Become a paid speaker to present unique views
  • Write best-selling books
  • Start coaching others

You will look at ways to tap into your thought leadership fame, and honestly, you'll more than likely feel happier and more fulfilled with your business.

Sometimes, people accidentally become thought leaders!

When you've been in an industry for a long time, you may accidentally become a thought leader on a related topic that you may not have considered.

Take the documentary king – David Attenborough. Over the past few decades, he's been filming his documentaries around the globe. As a result of being in this industry for so long, he's seen significant changes to the environment.

David is now very vocal about global warming and climate change. Why? Because he's seen it first hand and in a very up close and personal way.

And people respect his thoughts on it. Naturally, we love seeing the cute animal docos and time-release shots of the plants growing, but we pay attention when he talks about climate change.

No, you don't have to become a thought leader

You can still be a highly successful business owner without needing to be a thought leader. It's not for everyone.

You may not be ready to share your knowledge, experience and beliefs with the world, or perhaps you'd prefer to keep them in a written content form as putting yourself out there on a stage isn't your thing.

And that's fine too. You need to decide and act on what suits you.

But being a thought leader is a great brand positioning tool

If you have the courage of conviction to share what you believe in, then putting yourself on the stage as a thought leader is a great brand positioning tool.

And it's about repetition. When people see you talking about a specific topic all the time with your unique perspective and ideas, then when it comes to that topic, they're going to listen to you.

Take a second to think about your industry. Does anyone stand out to you? Do you follow them religiously on Insta, read their content, or listen to their speeches?

I'm a massive Brene Brown consumer. When she produces a new video, I watch it (e.g. her Netflix special I watched 3 times!), and I've got all her audible books. You could call me a fangirl!

But I respect her beliefs, and I hold her in high regard. She's 100% a genuine thought leader.

Being a thought leader comes with great respect, and people see you as a person who others admire. You'll find you may become a sought-after keynote speaker as people know you'll sell tickets to their events.

How to develop your own thought leadership

You know you've got heaps of experience in your industry, so here's how to develop your talents to become a thought leader:

  • Ask yourself what you want to be known for
  • Narrow in on something specific – put your stake in the ground and say, ‘This is what I'm about'
  • Don't be scared to own this
  • Work your unique point of view or angle on your expertise
  • Be open to evolving – to look at what you're talking about and hone in on specifics
  • Don't let others with similar views stop you – they are not you – find your voice
  • Always be true to yourself

How to grow your thought leadership influence

Once you've worked out what you want to be known for and your top themes and topics for your messages, you need to use this to influence and grow your audience. Here's how:

  • Start using your messages everywhere – you can't be a silent thought leader
  • Use your topic in your content strategy planning and position yourself as a speaker around the topic
  • Use social proof by sharing what others are saying and weaving it into your bios and articles
  • Be confident, and don't be shy to promote yourself
  • Know what you stand for and want to be known for, and stick with it
  • Write a book on your topic – have your say in the personal and business world
  • Put yourself forward for speaking gigs

How do you use your thought leadership to grow your business?

Once you've decided what you want to be known for and developed your key top-line messages that you talk about and share widely, what's next? How do you use this to grow your business?

All the people who follow you are potential clients. You may think of them as just your community or audience, but they are following you for a reason at the end of the day.

They may buy your book, attend an event you're speaking at, or join a course you're running. They've come to know and respect you and want to pick up what you're putting down.

Ultimately, any successful business comes down to knowing your audience and delivering what they want. Listen to them, be clear on what they want, and look at how you can create products or services for what they need.

How to evolve your thought leadership

As we evolve, our businesses evolve, and the world evolves – and so must your thought leadership.

I highly recommend keeping up with others in your space, collaborating and talking to develop your thinking. It's a great way to keep learning and exploring different angels to what you talk about.

Mix your personal experiences, your client's experiences and other thought leadership ideas. Look at all the qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. survey results, studies on the power of brands, influence and human buying behaviour etc.) to help formulate your unique view.

In doing this, you won't have a single-minded opinion but a well-rounded view that's researched and qualified.

I hope that's given you some insights into becoming a thought leader

I encourage you to think about how you can start developing your thought leadership and adding your unique message to it. It's 100% worth it to play a bigger game and brand bold in today's market.

Go for your goals!

Want a freebie before you go? Grab your copy of ‘Become a paid speaker and get more speaking gigs' here.

As always, feel free to DM me on Instagram if you've got any questions.

Why thought leadership matters | Suz Chadwick Brand Coach

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2022-03-23

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