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Buzzwords. Buzzwords. Buzzwords everywhere, but before you discount another industry buzzword becoming more relevant online, do you know what thought leadership is and how to become one in your field?

If you’re unsure what thought leadership is actually about, you aren’t the only one. On almost every social media platform out there, you will see “Thought Leader” on the bios and profiles of your favourite ‘influencers’. But what does that actually mean? 

The truth is thought leadership is not that complicated. It’s not that difficult either, but it is strategic. All thought leaders have one thing in common;  they know they need to position themselves as an expert in their industry conversation, rather than just talking about what their company does. 

So what is Thought Leadership?

“As a notable expert in a specific company, industry or society, a thought leader is someone who offers guidance and insight to those around them.”

In other words, a thought leader has a positive reputation for helping others with their knowledge and insight. Thought leadership can typically be part of a broader PR strategy focused on helping you stand out from the competition and make a mark in your industry.

The purpose of a thought leadership strategy is to leverage you as an expert and either start or engage with industry conversations. In theory, thought leadership is focused on the intellectual influence and innovative or pioneering views you add to your industry. 

Who are Thought Leaders?

A thought leader can be anyone who focuses on a problem and its solution. They can be anyone people view as authoritative in their industry. Thought leaders are the go-to in an industry or specialisation.

Thought leaders aim to become an expert in their industry. But to do that, you need to speak more about your industry than your product. Here are four ways you can start your journey to becoming a thought leader.

4 ways to start your Thought Leadership strategy

#1 Introduce yourself: Who are you, and what value do you offer?

Start by identifying the problem you are interested in and map out how you will solve it. You need to be clear about how you want to position yourself. It may seem that you are interested or skilled in multiple areas, but a strategic thought leadership approach focuses on a particular problem and grows from there. Rather be too specific than too broad when starting. When you pretend to know everything, you are an expert in nothing.

#2 Start writing pitches: focus on the value of the problems you solve, not just your product or service. 

If you look at the influential thought leaders you follow, you will notice that they do not ‘sell’ something directly to you often. You are aware of their credibility, but you associate them with views they have that were relatable to you. As a growing thought leader, your aim should be to comment on the industry and write pitches to magazines, newspapers and online publications. Share your views on industry matters, but avoid ‘selling’ products/services/solutions.

#3 Write content for publications: write about the industry and what is relevant in the market (should be suitable for the publication you are submitting to).

Once you become familiar with what problem you are talking about and how your views add a solution to this problem, you will identify publications where your pitches will be relevant. Identify the publications that will find your ideas valuable to their readers and send your pitches and articles to them for publication. 

#4 Social media: share your opinions and thoughts in social media posts. 

One of the most accessible but strategically undervalued platforms is your own social media channels. Use your channels to publish articles, quotes, pictures, book reviews and other opinion pieces that position you to add value to your target audience.

This is the ideal place for you to build up credibility and presence to support your pitching efforts to publications. If you build this up properly, journalists will find their way to your inbox in a heartbeat.

Get access to the Pioneer Academy for in-depth insights. 

Establishing yourself as a thought leader can be of great help for any startup or scale-up that wants to differentiate itself from competitors. Considering so many startups and scale-ups are notably investing in their content strategies, positioning yourself as the thought leader can help grow visibility and lead to a revenue increase.

For more insights into how to develop your thought leadership strategy, get access to Pioneer Academy‘s Thought Leadership Masterclass hosted by Matias Rodsevich. 

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