In a world inundated with B2B and B2C content, striking that sweet spot between staying relevant and standing out can be a challenge. Fear not! Distill thought leadership into these easy steps, and your track to the podium will be clearer than ever:
Step 1: Research, research, research
What’s in AdWeek today? What about Wired or TechCrunch? Do you read the New York Times every day? To be an eloquent speaker, it’s important to be well-read. Not only does this allow you to hone your critical thinking skills, but it provides insight into broader industry trends. By reading widely-circulated publications, you can find out what your audience wants, and learn to articulate it in ways that resonate.
Step 2: Keep it real
There are so many words for staying true to yourself: being “authentic,” cultivating your “personal brand” and being deemed an “influencer” are just a few. When you strip away these buzzwords, what it really comes down to is, “What makes you special?”
It’s weird, right? In the workforce, we spend so much time conforming to what’s considered professional and seeking approval from managers, yet truly fantastic speakers are more intimate than ever. Your life has the power to motivate an audience far beyond standard market trends. So, be your best self. It’s the simplest and hardest thing to own in thought leadership, but the most important.
Step 3: Find your people
A community could be its own article because it’s so essential to find an audience who truly appreciates you when becoming a thought leader, rather than pandering to an audience you have to chase. Beyond networking with facetime at on-brand events, looking at back-end data to hyper-target can be the key to unlocking evocative content.
For example, if you know that your company website receives visits predominately from males ages 25 to 35 in mid-career roles on the east coast, why not produce pieces catering to specific challenges they face regularly? Your core demographic already sees something in you–don’t neglect them.
Step 4: Be different
I know, I know…we just focused on making sure your ideas were topical. That’s just the first step to wowing your audience. Next, you need to take in the majority consensus and then add your own pizzazz. Otherwise, you’re just preaching to the choir. If your research is valid and your opinions are genuine, you’ll stand out and provide important counterpoints in an over-saturated industry.
Step 5: Spread the word
Meet. Tweet. Blog. Present. While it is important to focus on your core base on the appropriate channel ( i.e., Twitter), ensuring that you stay relevant across critical channels keeps your presence visible. Find out where people are listening, then meet them where they are. That being said, there is a fine line between captivating and overwhelming your audience. Keep the content coming, but don’t bog people down if it’s not relevant to your branding. Stay curious, not domineering.
Step 6: Just do it
Get out there! No one knows what you’re capable of until you show them, so make sure you have a well-rounded, multi-channel distribution of the content you’re excited to share. Inquiring minds want to know! Find a nurturing network and stay true to yourself, then disseminate that authenticity across a steady stream of content on the right channels. That way, your words can—and should—speak for themselves.
Good luck out there, thought leaders! I know you have something fantastically important to say, and I can wait to hear it.
Until next time!
Alexandra Bregman is an arts writer and content marketing manager who has worked in thought leadership for CEOs and business owners across industries, most notably for the CEO of Y&R) and has recently been published in the Wall Street Journal. For ghostwriting or strategy consulting advice, please contact her on LinkedIn.