Have you ever heard these terms and rolled your eyes?
I mean, they sound great. Who doesn’t want to be seen as an influential leader? The frustrating part isn’t the concept of becoming a thought leader or an influencer. It’s the “how” portion of that equation.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be invited to become a FrontPageIt curator by your followers, be recognized as an expert and have a tribe that pays attention to your every word?
How do you become a thought leader who people would actually invite? How can you get your voice heard in a sea of other voices?
Take these seven crucial elements to heart.
Throw Stuff At the Wall
Thought leaders need to be able to communicate their thoughts to the world, and this usually takes place in the form of content.
Whether you choose to write articles, create videos, record a podcast, or even share ideas on social media, developing content and cultivating an audience for that content is crucial.
And part of that is, as James Clear puts it, being “willing to create garbage”. Clear explains the “Equal Odds” rule, saying that since “you can’t predict your success, the best strategy is to produce as much work as possible, which will provide more opportunities to hit the bullseye”.
Since you never know what will hit a homerun, you need to be willing to work. To create content, test theories, and get back up again when you fail. Be willing to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.
But of course, no matter how prolific you are, you have to make sure that you…
Set Your Worst as Everybody Else’s Best
Want to know something crazy?
Every single month, there are 54.2 million blog posts published. Each month, 300 billion Tweets are sent, and in a single minute over 300 hours of video content is uploaded to Youtube. This means that there is a lot of noise out there. And since any Tom, Dick, or Harry can publish content on the internet, the quality of most of that content leaves a lot to be desired.
Thought leadership requires you to be both prolific and do great quality work.
With so many options, nobody wants to read something that won’t provide value to their lives. So step up your game and make sure that everything you put out there is the best possible quality. This will increase your chances of being invited to be a curator on FrontPageIt, and when you are a curator, drive more engagement, raising your profile even further.
Hold yourself to such a high standard that your worst work is better than everybody else’s best work.
Increase Your Average
Have you ever wondered why Kim Kardashian is famous?
It may surprise you that she was famous even before her infamous tape leaked. If she weren’t, that wouldn’t have been a huge deal, right?
The truth is, Kim Kardashian became famous because she hung out with famous people.
Her father represented OJ Simpson during his trial. Her family was good friends with members of the Jackson family. Kim was friends with Paris Hilton as a teenager.
When we see people with famous people, our brains tell us that they must be significant, too. That’s why you see up-and-coming thought leaders spending time with other influencers. They are coached by them, they interview them, and they meet them at conferences.
Jim Rohn said “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”, so to become a true thought leader, you need to increase your average. Build relationships with other influencers. Share knowledge and add value to their lives. Interview them, dig deep to find out how they got where they are.
You can’t get from where you are to where you want to go without other people. So surround yourself with the right ones.
If you want to be a thought leader in self-improvement, you have a lot of work ahead of you.
You have to try to have your ideas heard around the same level as Tony Robbins, Oprah, and Brene Brown.
That’s because self-improvement is a crowded niche, and one that is already full of powerful influencers and thought leaders. Setting your sites on a niche like self improvement is far too big a fish to fry for most.
So, up-and-coming thought leaders all start somewhere rather specific. They find a smaller, less crowded niche to develop expertise around.
For example, Lewis Howes started by developing expertise in LinkedIn. Through his start with LinkedIn and some strategic positioning, he’s seen as a thought leader in human performance, entrepreneurship, and even sports.
It’s much easier to establish yourself as a thought leader in a smaller niche and branch out from there.
Set Yourself Apart
Because the scope of the internet allows for almost anybody to get online and start building a brand and audience, it feels impossible to stand out.
You saw the numbers. The volume of blog posts published each month alone is daunting, but luckily most of those people vying for everybody’s attention have one thing in common:
They’re average, middle-of-the-road and don’t differentiate themselves from others.
But not you. If you want to be a thought leader, you need to be different. If you do what everybody else is doing, you’ll remain in the same position as everybody else:
Average. Unremarkable. Part of the unwashed masses.
Thought leadership is only bestowed upon those who are memorable. Remarkable. Different. You can’t be a thought leader if nobody remembers who you are. So separate yourself from the crowd. Find your own personal Unique Selling Proposition.
Then, communicate it to the world.
Arguably the best way to become a thought leader almost overnight is by getting published.
Think about it. Authors go from relative obscurity to legitimate thought leader with that golden stamp of publishing approval.
There’s a reason why we use the phrase “he’s practically written the book on it” when we’re describing somebody’s impressive expertise.
Getting published gives you authority, as well as expands your reach beyond your normal content channels.
So if you want to speed up your path to becoming a thought leader, write the book on your topic. Get published.
Engineer How People Think of You
Do you know how much power you have?
It’s true. You’re in control of a lot of things.
For example, you control almost all of the outcomes of your future. If you’re reading this, you control how much money you earn, how much freedom you have, and how you react to things.
And you definitely control how people think of you.
I know it might seem far fetched. After all, it’s not like you have power over other people’s minds, right? But you can absolutely reverse engineer how you’re perceived by other people.
And you do it by training others through how you present yourself.
For instance, if I were to meet you and introduce myself just with my first name, and say it in a gloomy voice like I wasn’t happy to meet you, I’m training you to think of me as a gloomy person without much of a knack for social skills.
However, if I were to introduce myself as a “social media in human resources expert” and greet you confidently, I’m training you to think of me as the “social media in human resources expert” who is confident and personable.
So how do you present yourself? How can you reverse engineer how others think of you.
Thought Leadership is a Verb
It may seem impossible right now to become a thought leader in anything.
But thought leadership is a verb. It’s something that you do. And when you do something with enough repetition, you become it.
So if you want to become a thought leader, act like one, and soon enough, you’ll become one.
And the best part about being a thought leader?
You get to provide unique value to the world. You get to create and share knowledge. And people will pay attention. You will make an impact.