June 11, 2012
| last updated June 15, 2012 10:39 am
What it takes to stand out in your industry
Industry gurus, often called thought leaders, are sought out, listened to, respected and needed for their expertise and innovative ideas. Organizations depend on them. While it's good to simply perform well in your job or business, in this highly competitive world, being good is not good enough. And that's why you want to establish yourself as a legitimate thought leader.
So, how do you position yourself as one? To begin, you simply can't declare your arrival. Legitimate expertise is still required. Yet, at the same time, you have to develop a recognized reputation as an expert. Being the industry's best-kept secret will not get you entrance to the club. Recognition brings with it tremendous benefits, including job promotions and security; increased business; attention from the media, colleagues and industry groups; plus fame and often fortune.
Within your company, you should make yourself the go-to person in your area of expertise. Share your ideas, volunteer for projects, mentor colleagues and "up and comers," assist customers, and contribute to your company's newsletter and blog. Your position as an internal thought leader elevates both you and your company in the eyes of your boss, customers, competitors, vendors, and the industry as a whole. Establish both an internal and external presence.
To solidify your place as the industry guru, follow these eight strategies:
- Find your voice: It is not enough to simply have expertise. It has to be known and that requires taking positions that could be contrarian and even controversial. Thought leaders have to express their ideas with passion and conviction and must be always developing new ideas and concepts. Thought leaders cannot simply be perceived as recycling more of the same.
- Keep the company of other thought leaders: Surround yourself with other smart people — people who have varied ideas and perspectives; people who will challenge your thinking; and people who will elevate you to a higher level. Identify these thought leaders, study their work and reach out to them. Create with them a community of thinkers. Thought leaders freely share their ideas.
- Develop a body of work: Your ideas, opinions and insights position you as a thought leader, but you must develop multiple ways to communicate them — and it must be an ongoing process. Thought leaders, by definition, continuously think about things, analyze them, challenge accepted ideas, debate issues and develop new concepts. Thought leaders look at the world differently and persuade others.
- Write: Getting published in professional and industry-specific publications can be the foundation upon which to build your reputation as an expert. It can be both the feeder system for your thought-leader brand and the incubator for your intellectual capital.
- Get out in front of people: Whether before your local chamber of commerce, a chapter of a professional association or at a national conference, speaking provides you a perfect platform to showcase your expertise. And by recording it and posting it online, you can gain worldwide exposure.
- Maintain an online presence: Develop a compelling online presence using blogs and social media. More people turn to social media to get their news and obtain new knowledge. Regularly post your thoughts on your blog, guest blog for others and comment on other blogs. Join and comment on industry-specific LinkedIn groups and make sure you have a website.
- Cultivate a relationship with the media: TV, radio and print are the fastest mediums to demonstrate your knowledge. The media craves good content. Press releases are effective, but remember, no one is interested in a commercial. Commenting on relevant, current issues is key. Once introduced to a reporter, develop a professional relationship. Be available when they need you. Feed good information to them.
- Write a book: A professionally published book is the gold standard of thought leadership. Opinions of you vastly change when you become an author. Doors open. The media calls you. Associations want you to speak before their group. And individuals want to see the book, read it and learn all about it. With a book, you quickly rise to the top.
The more you do, the higher your recognition level and professional stature. No longer are you a secret. You are now the go-to person — a true industry guru, a thought leader.