May 15th, 2017

What would you rather be: a chief or just another member of the tribe? A trail blazer or trail follower? Someone who helps determine and influence the conversation or a worker bee that waits for others to establish the agenda?

If you’d prefer to help set the pace instead of simply run the race, then the chances are you would like to be a thought leader. Here’s how to do it:

Be an expert

  • Select topics or issues about which you have knowledge.
  • Have or develop a track record of writing or speaking about your topics or issues to groups and organizations in the industries or professions in which you want to be considered a thought leader.
  • Stay ahead of the curve by thinking about your field beyond today and sharing predictions or forecasts that illustrate your authority in the field.

Be a joiner

  • Join or lead groups and organizations that are more likely to help establish your role as a thought leader.
  • Volunteer to serve on committees or task forces that can bolster your expertise and add to your credentials as an authority.
  • Be visible

  • Identify, create and take advantage of appropriate opportunities for you to be seen as an expert or authority, including speeches, presentations, and media, blog, and podcast interviews.
  • Post on your website or social media platforms links to articles, interviews, speeches, etc. that you have done about your areas of specialty.
  • Practice your ability to prepare and deliver short, pithy and memorable quotes that will be used by journalists and bloggers in their stories about or interviews with you.
  • Be a student

  • Keep current on the trends and developments in the areas in which you are or want to be considered an authority.
  • Study other thought leaders inside and outside your industry or profession. What can you learn from their successes that you can apply to your own efforts to become or stay a thought leader?
  • Be persistent

  • Identify or create new opportunities to position yourself as an authority and expert.
  • Maintain a blog to which you post on a regular basis, and install a widget so that people can be notified about each new post.
  • Reinforce your role as a thought leader in ways that you have not done before, such as writing a book, starting a blog, becoming a public speaker, or proactively seeking media interviews and speaking opportunities.
  • Set monthly, quarterly or annual goals and milestones of important activities and accomplishments that can help you become and remain a thought leader.
  • Becoming a thought leader can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you act like you are a thought leader, the more likely it is you will become one.