Join Whitney Johnson for an in-depth discussion in this video Becoming a thought leader, part of Entrepreneurship Foundations (2014).
One of the most important things you can do to grow your business is to become a thought leader. A thought leader is a person who is on the cutting edge of a field. A thought leadership isn't just about expertise. It's also the ability to leverage the brand equity that comes from being a thought leader. When an idea multiplies and distributes throughout the internet with your name attached, leadership becomes thought leadership. You may be thinking I've got enough to do as an entrepreneur.
I don't have time to become a thought leader too. But the fact is being a thought leader will be a boon to your business. The first reason is that when you're the expert, you beat the competition. If a potential customer has to decide between a company that has a CEO who produces content as an expert in their field, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Tony Hsieh, and a regular company, who will they choose? The second reason for becoming a thought leader is it's a tool for lead generation.
When you generate knockout content, people will want to hear what you have to say. Clay Christensen, the father of disruptive innovation is a terrific example. Because people wanted a piece of his intellect. He's launched a consultancy, a think tank, and an investment firm. When a prospective customer consumes your ideas, they are one step closer to buying your product. As for how you become a thought leader, begin with your genesis story.
Why your product? Why your company? Why you? All of which you want to share on your website. You are taking a position establishing a point of view. The next step is to start blogging. You may be thinking, "Why don't just publish a book?" But at the outset, it's tough to get published. You might also not know exactly what you want to say. A blog is a low cost way of writing your way to a point of view and socializing your ideas. If writing isn't your strength and conversation is, try podcasts.
A visual design, look at SlideShare. The camera loves you, video. Whatever the medium, analyze the ROI or return on investment on each platform and prioritize accordingly. Next, you want to pitch online publications. It used to be that you needed to be a professional writer, a reporter, but now seasoned enterprenuers can pitch great ideas and get published. Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of Daily Muse, a workplace site for millennials is a good example of this.
Kathryn has written several pieces for Harvard Business review. There are also publications that don't involve gatekeepers. Those with national reach like Huffington Post, Medium, or LinkedIn. There are local papers, local websites, which you can cover local politics and events. While publishing on platforms much bigger than your personal or company website helps amplify your message, social media is still a must. You don't need to be on every platform. Not only because your audience isn't, but because some are better suited to your strengths than others.
Finally, speak at conferences. Speaking is a great way to establish your expertise. Whether as a keynote or a panelist, provided of course that you're prepared. One of the most important traits of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to persuade. And who better than you to take the lead on persuading people to buy your products and services.
- Cite the steps that can help you find an unmet need.
- Differentiate between a business and a hobby.
- Recognize how to decide between an online business and a brick and mortar business.
- Describe how to protect your intellectual property.
- Explain the best practices for hiring the right people.
- Recall the importance of tapping into networks of expertise.
- Cite the best practices for building a business website.
- Summarize the best metrics to use for your online business.