What comes to mind when you think of a thought leader or expert? It's likely someone who speaks at conferences, has authored books, and is the go-to source in his field. Opportunities for this person abound, from consulting gigs to job offers.
Thought leadership is designed to help an individual become branded as an expert in an industry. Maybe you know everything there is to know about your profession and becoming recognized as a reputable person will bring you more career opportunities.
What's In It For Your Employer?
By building your thought leadership skills, you not only help yourself become known as an expert, but you also help your company become more recognized. In your bio on your blog or at a speaking event, your work experience is highlighted typically. Your employer gets the benefit every time you use your thought leadership skills.
Tools of the Trade
Thought leaders do a ton of writing about their industries. From blogs and books to articles and white papers, this type of content can help position you as a thought leader in your field.
Because people search online so often for solutions to their problems, the writing you do as an expert can help these people to find answers they're looking for. If you write blog posts regularly on topics that relate to your field, people will find these posts when they search. If they're in need of a management consultant and they like what they find, they are more likely to reach out to you or your company after finding your blog. The blog creates trust; and it makes you stand out from your competitors.
Public speaking is another tool that can help brand you as an expert. Find conferences, trade shows, and seminars where you can lend your expertise—either as an individual or as a representative—for your company.
You could also create and moderate a LinkedIn Group or other online forum. Bringing like-minded people together and creating and participating in the discussion can raise your visibility in your niche.
Updating Your Resume
Your thought leadership activities are ideal for your resume. If you have written books or research papers, create a section on your resume for published works. List speaking engagements as well. These activities show potential employers that you're proactive about sharing your knowledge with others and that you are well-connected. Your next employer will see you as an asset because you bring your following with you to your next role.
Don't feel like an expert? Consider what you know well, and what you're passionate about. Start down your thought leadership path by setting up a blog and writing posts about your industry. Share industry news, your own commentary, and posts other experts have written. Also consider what topics your ideal customer might be searching for, and write about those.
Once you become accustomed to writing regularly, you can consider penning a short ebook on a hot industry topic and promote it on your blog and newsletter. Once you get the writing wheels rolling, it's not a huge stretch to write a book, especially considering many books are self-published these days.
If you're nervous about moving into public speaking, then start locally at your community college or Chamber of Commerce. Join Toastmasters to polish your speaking skills. Work your way up speaking at industry events.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.