11 Ways to Build Thought Leadership With Your Personal Brand
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Growing online access has made it easier for individuals such as you to use your personal branding to position themselves as thought leaders and increase revenue-earning opportunities.
A thought leader, or the “go-to expert,” is defined as “an individual or firm recognized as an authority in a specific field … to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of the target audience on a particular topic. “
Thought leaders get the opportunities to be invited to speak at events, be a guest on TV shows, radio shows and podcasts, are invited to write columns in local and international publications, host and moderate events and so much more. Thought leaders are paid for their expertise and for providing a unique or alternative perspective on a topic.
Let’s look at some thought leaders across industries:
Steve Jobs: innovation and technology
Brene Brown: authenticity and vulnerability
Shonda Rhimes: screenwriting and TV
Oprah Winfrey: philanthropy and media
Richard Branson: rule breaker and entrepreneurship (and the list could go on and on)
Each of these thought leaders have done at least five, if not all of the things listed below, but out of everything listed, what they all have in common is a strong personal brand that they were willing to share with the world through multiple platforms.
Your personal brand is the thing that sets you apart from others based on your skills, experience, knowledge, expertise and, of course, your own personal journey. It’s about combining all the above and becoming well-known for a particular thing. Thought leadership is when you share your perspective, insight and new ideas around this thing. This allows you to share it with others and provides immense value.
Here are 11 ways you could be using your personal brand to become a thought leader or influencer in your industry:
1. Find out what you want to be known for
Ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for?” What keywords do you want people to remember when they hear your name? Consider your professional and personal journey. What are you known for? What makes you different? What new insight or value are you bringing to the table in what can sometimes seem like a very full house?
2. Talk about it
People need to not only know who you are, but what you have to say. Although it’s great to be knowledgeable about a topic or even the best in your industry, it doesn’t make it any easier for you or anyone else. We have so many more opportunities to create our own platforms or to reach out directly to others with existing platforms in order for our voices to be heard and to take space. Think about how you could be using your existing platforms to talk more about what you do and how you do it, to share your knowledge, and be an active participant in conversations that impact your industry.
3. Get online
Being online provides an immediate platform and visibility, as well as the opportunity to grow your reach and your online audience while providing value and creating impact. You can connect to the internet with your smart phone by creating a post, recording a video, and connecting with others. Online access levels the playing field, and allows you to instantly amplify your content once you have targeted your audience. There are many online platforms available. Start with the one that you are comfortable with and start sharing.
4. Write a book
Writing a book can provide you with credibility as well as a reference for people to see your work. It is your foundation. It combines all of your knowledge, expertise, and experience into one work. You can either use a publishing house or self-publish. Writing my first book in 2018, A PR Chick’s Guide To Building Your Personal Brand, was the catalyst for my career as a personal branding coach, trainer and now international speaker. It has also opened the doors to numerous revenue-earning opportunities.
5. Start a podcast or YouTube channel
Ever thought of being the host of your own radio or TV show? Now, you can easily start a podcast or even a YouTube channel that will give you another way to share your thoughts on a particular topic within your industry. Invite other industry leaders, and become the go-to channel for content that you want to be known for.
6. Be a guest
Maybe you aren’t quite ready to start your own show, but you could definitely be a guest, a speaker, a moderator or a panelist on someone else’s show or event. Get your speaker kit and bio ready, and start pitching your topics to shows or events that you know the audience would get immense value from what you have to share.
7. Create your own personal brand website
What will people see when they Google your name? Having a personal brand website where you control the look, feel and content is important when being positioned as a thought leader. You don’t want to rely on what appears in an internet search. Claim your domain name, and create your own website that truly speaks to your area(s) of expertise and your key topics of interest.
8. Host an event
With many events still virtual today, this is a great time to test out hosting your own event and a great way to create something on a small or large scale that is focused around your topic(s) of interest. Collaborate with others who can add value to your topic and host a virtual, hybrid or physical event. This could take the form of a mastermind or retreat, coaching group, webinar, summit, or coaching group.
Related: 5 Reasons to Host Your Own Event
9. Write about it online
Start writing about your key topics. You can begin with your social media channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook — or you could start a blog on your website or start a newsletter that interested individuals can subscribe to. Did you know you can now send newsletters via LinkedIn? I tried it and now have over 2,000 subscribers. Reach out to local or international publications with your pitch for a contributor to take your writing to the next level. This could immediately expand your reach and audience.
10. Create a product or service
Create something that supports your insight. These could include workbooks, courses or coaching services, as well as a customized program. Think about what your audience needs from you, and brainstorm the products or services that could support them with actual results while also positioning you as an expert.
11. Think different
Steve Jobs said it best when he said, “Think different.” What will make you stand out? Why should someone listen? Consider your industry and what you do that is unique or better than others in your field. Then consider why someone should pay for what you have to share.