By Jim Wong, CPA | October 18, 2017

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

Ever wonder how a person comes to be known as a “thought leader” – someone whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential?

Well, while there’s no magical answer, there is quite a bit of effort needed into becoming an authority in one’s industry, market and space.

A term used to describe both the value-add material often published online and the individuals whose create and curate it – thought leadership takes persistence, personal branding and creativity.

I recently came across an insightful article by that mentions some helpful tips on how to be a thought leader in your industry. I’ve decided to share some tips along with some of my own thoughts in the 7 Ways to Establish Thought Leadership below.

1. Believe in your topic.
Without dedication and true passion for your topic, it’s almost impossible to succeed as a thought leader. You have to be willing to put as much energy and charisma into the 50th piece you write as you do in your first article. The journey to making your topic known and relevant is long and repetitive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. If you believe in yourself and love your topic – you will succeed.

2. Embody Authenticity. 
As someone who others look up to, it’s important to be yourself instead of trying to be someone or something you’re not. Being authentic also means being honest, and having the courage to admit when you’re wrong. Audiences can easily notice when a speaker is not being truthful or genuine. Respect your audience and embody your authentic self – it’s the best way to achieve thought leadership.

3. Establish Authority.
In order to be seen as a leader you must first prove your authority in the industry. Thought leaders achieve authority when they have experience, industry knowledge and valuable content under their name. This step in becoming a thought leader is often seen as the most difficult because it has to be constantly worked on. You can never have too much experience and knowledge, and you must constantly create valuable content to remain authoritative and relevant. This includes articles, podcasts, videos, interviews, books and many other ways to share your knowledge.

4. Publish your Thoughts.
As mentioned before, taking the initiative to share your knowledge is imperative to being seen as a thought leader. The best strategy is to publish your thoughts in writing as much as possible. Transferring your knowledge and thoughts to a blog or article helps the development of your unique voice and allows it to be heard! The process of publishing personal blogs can help you understand your overall strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating valuable content. You may even get a better understanding of your purpose and vision as a leader when observing your own thoughts on paper.

5. Stay Consistently Social.
Social media is no longer something to do in your spare time – it’s a lifestyle. Choose a social media platform to continue building every day to gain a strong audience. This is a great way to be recognized as a thought leader and to gain high engagement on your posts.

One frequent mistake that aspiring thought leaders tend to make is social media selfishness. This occurs when an individual directs all posts and efforts on social media toward themselves as opposed to their audience. Make sure to engage with your audience just as much as they engage with you – ask questions, like their posts, share other thought leader’s blogs and stay active in the social community. You will be seen as more of a loyal leader when you stay visible and show sincerity toward others on social media.

6. Network Frequently.
Social media platforms aren’t the only places to connect with your audience and peers. Consider being an active networker and attend various events in person that allow you to connect with other thought leaders in the industry. Although networking can be used as a platform to voice your thoughts and build your confidence, it should also be used as a listening tool; to gain new insights and advice.

7. Promote yourself.
Don’t be afraid to pitch your own content to the media. Send your full articles or stories to news stations, tweet them, call them and be open to interview opportunities given to you. Every public display of your content or leadership will help you establish yourself more. Trust your strength as a thought leader. Anyone can be a thought leader if they are dedicated to succeed.

These are only a few ways to establish thought leadership. Do you have other tips? Comment below and let us know!

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