I follow a bunch of influencers and thought leaders who are either in my industry or related to it, including Peter Shankman, Brian Solis, Guy Kawasaki, and Ekaterina Walter. I value their insights and ideas, and I genuinely enjoy learning (a heck of a lot) from them.
Because they did not start out as influencers and thought leaders, I started thinking about what they did to stand out and become sought-after speakers, consultants, and authors. Here’s what they – and all influencers – have in common:
A personal brand
I wrote about creating a personal brand recently, and this is key to becoming an influencer and thought leader. Think about your area of expertise. What’s your niche? What do you do better than anyone else? Start building a brand and identity around that.
A unique point of view
Influencers write and share thought-provoking content based on their unique point of view. They don’t join conversations, they start them. With that said, don’t mistake having a strong point of view with being an egomaniac or jerk. Influencers want to help others, not maliciously provoke them.
If you want to be an influencer, you have to get your name out there and actively participate in your industry. Become active on social media channels, seek out guest blogging or columnist gigs, and research the possibility of syndicating content.
Attend your industries major conferences and trade shows. Network like crazy, host a meetup, consider sponsorship on some level, and inquire about being a speaker or participating in a panel discussion.
Just because you’re a big deal in your industry doesn’t mean you can hide in an ivory tower. You have to engage with your audience and community. Respond to comments and questions in real-time or as quickly as possible. Be available, be nice, and be helpful.
Who are your favorite influencers and thought leaders? What do you like most about them?
Image courtesy of focusmagazine.org