We get this question quite often, “How do I create a personal brand or be seen as a thought leader in my industry?” Usually I know the answer they are hoping for. They want to hear, “Just post a few things a week on any social media channel and you will get asked to speak for thousands and make millions selling the wonderful services you offer.” If you want to build authority and create a personal brand, it will not happen quickly… and it definitely won’t involve pushing an easy button!
Everyone wants to be a thought-leader (even if that phrase makes many want to throw up a little in their mouth) but few will actually do the work that it takes for people to think of them first when it comes to solutions in their industry. Who is the person that comes to mind when you think of wellness? Business growth? Sales? Leadership? Now the question is, what made you think of this person? Did they write a book on the topic? Several books? Have you heard them talk about this topic over and over again? Have they been sharing content on this topic over a period of time? You don’t have to be THE expert or authority on a topic to get in the conversation and keep showing up.
Becoming the go-to-person or authority on a subject doesn’t happen over night. It doesn’t happen in a couple of months. It takes repetition and time. It also takes sharing your original ideas and your opinions and unique take on what is happening in your industry. This can include what others are talking about but it is coming from your unique perspective. Here are 5 steps to create a personal brand and be seen as a thought leader in your industry:
Define your topic.
Did you notice I didn’t say TOPICS? There are so many who claim to be experts in 87 different topics. They are an expert in communication… and leadership… and customer service… and ethics. I get it, you have lots of interests. You may even be like me, owning two very different businesses– a digital marketing agency and a coworking space. But if I start telling you I am an expert in ethics and sales and wellness, you won’t believe me. There is no way I have the time to become the authority in all of those areas… no matter how great I think I am at multi-tasking!
If you are an expert in leadership, what type of groups have you led? Perhaps you create helpful content around leaders in the non-profit arena, or leaders in the hospitality industry. The more specific you can be, the easier it is for you to create lots of great content that people in that industry will seek out. This doesn’t mean that people outside of this niche won’t find it helpful as well. It just means you are the go-to-person for leadership in this specific area.
Choose your format.
Do you love to write? Are you comfortable in front of a camera? Maybe audio format is more your style. You should make a goal of creating one piece of unique content at least once a week. It could be a blog post, a video tip, or a podcast. This single piece of content is then shared across your social network and even converted into different formats. We often take a video that a client makes and get it transcribed to turn into a blog post and then pull the audio to load into a podcast.
This might be where you start saying, “I don’t have time to create weekly content,” and that’s ok. Just don’t also say you want to be seen as a leader in this area. Don’t be that person who longs to be seen as an expert or thought leader but doesn’t want to put in the work. You can carve out 1-2 hours a week to create thought-provoking content in the format that fits you best. You can hire an assistant or a marketing agency to then magnify that message in several ways, but that first piece has to come from your intellectual property… or inside your head.
Answer YOUR public.
There is a website called Answer the Public that we use to see what questions people are searching for online. This helps us determine what content to write about. This concept is where you start to create content. Answer YOUR public. What questions do clients and potential clients search for on Google? What do they ask you when you are speaking to them? If you can’t think of at least 10 frequently asked questions that your potential customers are searching for, you may need to spend more time learning about your true customer.
Make a list of these FAQs and then one by one, create content answering them. Don’t tell us what everyone else is telling us. Tell us what you think. Tell us why you agree with the masses or why you absolutely don’t. Give it to us straight and don’t use corporately jargon and pithy statements that sound like a brochure. I hate it when I read a blog post and the person is telling me such obvious information that I leave feeling as if I wasted my time. When a leadership blog tells us to focus on being more authentic but doesn’t give specific and unique ways to do it, we want to shout, “Where’s the Beef?”
Being an authority doesn’t mean you know it all. It means you are out in front, learning, consuming all you can about your topic, and sharing your knowledge along the way. Do you listen to podcasts in your industry niche? What do you read to ensure you are staying involved in the latest trends and happenings for your business? I am always surprised when I ask people what they listen to or read to stay up on the latest news or trends in their industry and they can’t think of anything. Whether or not you are working to be seen as a leader in your industry, you’d better be learning, or you will become extinct!
There are podcasts and blogs on every topic under the sun, and if you find an area you cannot find one in your specific niche… you’d better be starting one ASAP! I start my day listening to shortcasts from my Alexa device while I make my coffee and feed the dogs, and then I listen to a few podcast episodes while I get ready and drive into work each morning. Do you pop in and join the conversations on Clubhouse or Twitter’s Spaces? These are all great ways to learn and to join in and start voicing your opinions. You don’t have to host the discussion to join in.
Keep showing up!
As I said in the beginning this will not happen over night, but when you are using today’s social media tools, it happens much faster than it used to. If you simply show up every day sharing tips, tools, resources, and your voice, people will start to listen…and follow you! The more you show up and focus your discussions around your topic, the more people will begin to associate you with that topic.
Can you think of other tips that you have used or that someone else has used to stay out front in your industry? We’d love for you to share here…and to give us your opinion! 🙂