Could You Become a Thought Leader?

Building a business also means building a brand — and you are part of that.

As a small-business owner, you are constantly looking for ways to strengthen your business’s brand and support your company. One avenue you might consider is becoming a thought leader. According to the Sterling Marketing Group and Watermark, an association of female CEOs, it can help to view thought leadership as an outgrowth of your online voice.[1] Being a thought leader is a crucial designation for the head of a business, they argue, because you represent your brand. For your brand to stand out, you need to stand out.

While building a reputation as a thought leader takes hard work, both you and your business can benefit. Here are some steps to help get you there.                                                                                           

Consider your strengths and expertise. It’s fine if your range of expertise is narrow — in fact, specializing in a narrow niche can be a positive asset — as long as you really know the topic and are engaged enough to continue to learn more about it.

Create an online presence, or strengthen the one you have. Write a blog that showcases your expertise. According to Forbes, writing a blog, particularly one that offers advice on a topic, can help establish your voice.[2]

Connect with others in your field. As you work toward establishing yourself in a niche, connect to people in that area by reading widely — you can comment on others’ blogs — and attending conferences. Establishing connections with other experts in the field can help you amplify your own message, says Forbes.

Think big. Once you have a firm footing in your niche and you thoroughly understand your field, don’t be afraid to put your voice out there with unorthodox opinions. Provided it’s based in knowledge and expertise, disruptive, inventive thinking can be invaluable in establishing yourself as a thought leader.

Believe in yourself. Many female entrepreneurs struggle with societal expectations and their own instinct not to “brag,” according to Watermark. But positioning yourself as an expert, by creating a distinctive voice and brand, and sharing your messages with the world, isn’t bragging. Rather, it’s acknowledging your expertise and experience to an audience who is probably open to hearing what you have to say.

Becoming a thought leader is a time-intensive, ongoing effort. To maintain your subject-matter expertise, you will need to keep writing, reading and learning. But doing this, and making your voice heard, will give you and your business an opportunity to grow.

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1. http://sterlingmarketinggroup.com/2016/07/creating-thought-leadership-for-women-ceos-and-executives/

2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/08/19/how-to-become-a-thought-leader/#9e22e1e33538

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