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Become The Credible, Knowledgeable Thought Leader You’ve Always Wanted To Be

by Kim Garmon Hummel, on Feb 16, 2022 2:02:55 PM

What is a thought leader?

A thought leader is someone who expresses ideas clearly and demonstrates expertise in their respective field or about a particular subject. Many hope to become thought leaders. Few do. It’s not easy! Thought leadership requires years of personal and financial commitment. Patience doesn’t hurt either. And it’s not just about a piece of paper or years on the job. It’s about passion. Thought leaders walk their talk across multiple platforms. 

Thought leaders are insightful. They are informative. They are meaningful. Thought leaders compel readers and listeners to think differently and grow forward.

It’s about knowledge, not status

Becoming a thought leader is earned through hard work and guidance. It’s not a term you can assign to yourself but rather bestowed upon you by your peers and followers. Thought leadership is displayed by the information you share, the way you engage with others in your sphere of influence, and your steadfast confidence to grow. 

This doesn't mean you need to feel bad about marketing yourself. If you don’t, who else is going to do it? Market like crazy! Just don’t shout “I’m a thought leader!” from the rooftops. That’s a quick way to show you’re anything but. 

To become the thought leader you want to be, you need to market yourself smarter and develop dedicated, data-driven strategy. More on that later. 

Just like leadership, you need to earn it. Learn, grow, and communicate. That’s what thought leaders do better than most. Everyone has a job title, but not everyone knows how to leverage their professional status for personal and professional growth. Thought leaders do. 

One more thing: a thought leader doesn’t have to be some bigger-than-life mogul. Thought leaders range from matriarchs to local politicians to small business owners. No matter what, that influence must be used responsibly. Unethical thought leaders can mislead about topics and philosophy for a quick buck or short-term prestige. There’s no place for that in 2022. Let’s grow past that and build responsible, healthy thought leadership in our communities.

Be novel

We’re good at convincing ourselves not to do something. Developing into a thought leader isn’t about doing something brand new that nobody’s ever done before. Although, that’s definitely a bonus. 

Thought leadership can be defined under two umbrellas: bringing something new to the table or discovering a new way to discuss an old topic. You are unique. That’s valuable!

Bring something new to the table 

Do you have a personal or professional philosophy that guides you through work and life? Have you researched a theory or methodical approach and discovered some areas for improvement?

Reframe and refocus the conversation

Is there an outdated model of communication, a system of work, or a theory that you believe in? The digital attention economy creates a volatile, at times overwhelming, stage for thought leaders. It’s up to the smartest and most strategic minds to reframe and refocus the conversation around the topics they want to talk about. 

Now I want to be clear: this does not mean forcing your way into the topic of conversation or the newest trend. This means playing the field and discovering engaging angles to older or outdated topics.

Develop credible expertise

Here are a few types of authority that you can build and leverage as a thought leader:

  • Positional: titles aren’t everything, but they certainly contribute to perception. A trusted or innovative job title can be the difference between reaching your audience or falling on deaf ears. 

  • Experience: Your job title needs years of reliable data behind it. You earned that job title. But now you need to display your knowledge to your growing audience as a subject matter expert. And if others back your experience, you’ll have a much easier time establishing your role.

  • Credentials: Are you educated or certified in your field of expertise? This is again not the whole puzzle, but rather an important piece of it. Credentials provide prestige and validation beyond just words or testimonials. 

Now that your audience understands that you’re credible, it’s time to communicate clearly and often. Regularly share your point of view on relevant topics and developments in your field! Everything from burgeoning systems or concepts to key personnel changes. I mentioned it before: people want to hear from you! We can be really good at psyching ourselves out and convincing ourselves that nobody wants to hear what we have to say. That’s a challenging mindset to get yourself out of. I’m here to say thoughts like that are common as you implement a thought leadership strategy. You’re not alone! As long as you stick with the plan you have in place, you’ll make it through.

Work with others

Working with others is the fastest way to develop credible expertise and display authority. Leverage your combined audiences to reach more eyes and ears and grow each other’s digital presence. 

Working with others is the smartest way to grow in the traditional business world. As social and technology continue to develop, more and more people realize it’s still the smartest way to grow. Collaborating is easier and simpler than ever before! Here are several ways thought leaders establish themselves as smart, informative guides to their audience:

  • A small business owner that works with other small businesses in the general region to host community events or discussions about local and industry topics
  • A professor or educator featured on the news or digital platform to provide context to a current or interesting topic 
  • A podcast guest appearance about a meaningful topic to drive engaging discussion

Build your brand

Multichannel storytelling is a requirement for thought leaders. This means you must develop a brand style guide, messaging strategy, and then follow them to a T. 

Your brands need to hook the reader in. Your social copy needs to generate discussion. Your images must invite. Your calls to action must be direct and clear

You need to tell an effective, replicable story. One that invites your customers into your community and illustrates how you can guide them towards a smarter way to think and grow!

As far as we’re concerned, there are two ways to build your brand: Work with a StoryBrand Guide to develop a messaging strategy and a marketing team to develop a brand style guide.

Luckily, Sauce Marketing can do both! We’re a certified StoryBrand agency with years of experience developing actionable branding strategies for thought leaders across many industries. We work with our clients to discover their audience’s problems and position their business as a guiding thought leader. 

For more information on how you can develop a powerful story that speaks to your audience and drives engagement click here. To put it simply, we help you align, know, and grow. Contact one of our Growth Guides today and discover how you can become the thought leader you’ve always wanted to be.

Are you ready to #GrowSmarter? Schedule a risk-free call with a Growth Guide today!



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