Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a celebrity coping with some temporary setback, or a charismatic personality eager to shine in the limelight…or a mixture of all these, you can still jumpstart your public persona by doing a few specific things. Being a thought leader is an enviable position, and therefore it takes commitment, hard work and homework to reach that status.
Here are our top 10 ways to promote yourself as a thought leader, and be credible while doing it.
#1. Lean on Your Education
To boost your brand appeal and establish intellectual authority in a specific field or on a particular subject, rely on your educational background as much as possible. If you have an advanced degree, say, a master’s or Ph.D., mention it as often as you can.
If your alma mater is a prestigious university, mention it. The idea is to make known whatever lies in your academic background that can help you boost your thought leadership aspirations.
#2. Highlight Your Network
Similar to your educational background, your professional and social networks can help in polishing your credentials as an aspiring or confirmed thought leader. For example, if you hold membership in a prestigious professional organization or civil society, don’t hesitate to cite it.
These accolades might land you some good publicity, which in turn could lead to other opportunities for increased visibility. When leveraging your network, be sure to make it relevant, though.
In other words, ensure the organization is in sync with the field or topic for which you want to establish intellectual prominence.
#3. Write a Book
There is nothing more powerful than penning a book on the sector or topic for which you want to be seen as a thought leader. Don’t take our word for it – just look at all the politicians, media personalities, religious leaders and so-called pundits who publish a book every six or 12 months.
These people don’t do it for the money; it is more the free publicity that book publishing offers, as well as the ability to be seen as a thought leader, which may lead to other, more lucrative opportunities down the road.
Even if you don’t have the time or ability to write a book, enlist the services of a ghostwriter. The investment will be worth it when you compare the initial few thousand dollars you invest, to the millions you will ultimately earn and the countless media citations your book will get if it becomes a best-seller.
#4. Deliver Speeches and Top-Rate Presentations
Deliver speeches and top-rate presentations, and you are on your way to be perceived as an intellectual authority.
Seek the help of a PR firm or a professional well versed in the intricacies of the speaker circuit. Let him or her handle your availability and book speaking time with interested parties. Also, file an application with TED or other prestigious conference organizers, and be on their pending lists.
#5. Be Nominated
Nominate yourself or ask others to nominate you for prestigious awards in your industry of predilection. There are so many awards around, you want to be selective and strategic in applying for the right nomination and award. The last thing you want is to be nominated for something with which you would not want to be associated with in, say, five or 10 years from now.
#6. Pen Articles in High-Circulation Newspapers
Again, we are talking about the power of writing. If writing a 200 or 300 page comprehensive tome is not your forte, or if you are constrained budget-wise, try to write and publish an article in a high-circulation newspaper or online magazine.
Editors usually seek unique, original content from industry luminaries, so use your professional connections and everything else to have an article approved and published. Alternatively, reach out to a journalist or top blogger and pitch a topic to him or her.
At the end, whether you or someone else writes the article does not matter as much as the mention of your name, brand or organization in the article.
#7. Surround Yourself With Other Luminaries
To be smart and be seen as smart, you have to surround yourself with smart people. Cultivate the company of luminaries in your industry or region, especially people who have already established themselves as achievers.
Needless to say, you should emulate someone who has already accomplished what you seek to accomplish. The best and perhaps fastest way to reach this goal is to make such an achiever your mentor.
#8. Know Your Target Audience
Know the target audience and understand their priorities and intellectual preoccupations. In other words, you want to know hot topics and subjects that are near and dear to your fans’ hearts.
Once you identify those subjects, do as much research as you can, and then form your own opinion. That way, people will learn to respect your views, follow them and refer them to their friends and family.
#9. Ramp Up Your Public Relations
To promote yourself as a thought leader, you should let a professional handle, at least in part, your public relations. Promotion is a business in itself, and there are many communication pros who can help you position yourself as the thought leader you want and need.
#10. Beef Up Your Social Media Presence
As you are working on your PR, work also on your social media presence. Ideally, the PR agency you hire should also guide you in terms of social network positioning and, if your budget permits, handle your presence altogether.
Either way, you need to build up your fan base, engage them, and gradually convert those virtual followers into real-life customers.
Nothing is more rewarding than being seen as a thought leader, an expert whose ideas, words and actions are seen and mimicked by millions around the world.
But before you get to that level, a lot of work is awaiting you. Work, preparation, networking and a supporting, competent entourage can help you reach your goal.
Images: Author’s Own
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