3 Building Blocks to Becoming a Thought Leader

With more than 3 billion active Internet users worldwide, it’s easier than ever to share your ideas with others. On the other hand, by making information so easily accessible, standing out as a thought leader proves difficult when everyone’s aiming for the spotlight.

At her recent “Speak Up, Stand Out: Tips for Becoming a Thought Leader” webinar with Cision, marketing strategy consultant and professional speaker Dorie Clark explored how to identify influential ideas to make your mark, whether locally or globally. In order to develop a unique idea, you need to change perspectives, reflect on strengths and pull from personal experiences.

While coming up with an idea is the first big step, getting recognized is what sets thought leaders apart from the rest of the world. Dorie emphasizes these three steps to get the word out about your idea:


1. Build Your Network


Before you reach out to others, think about how you can make yourself indispensable in a network.

“There are silos that do not talk to each other. If you can be a person who brings those people together, that’s really useful,” says Dorie.

 Build Your CircleCircle-Thought-Leadership

Whether you invite a new person to lunch each week or create your own personal mastermind groups, be active in making connections.

“We need to be more deliberate about who we want to surround ourselves with, who we want to learn from,” says Dorie. “Be more decisive of when and how often you see someone.”

Grow Your Network

“A lot of the people we should meet with we don’t know right now,” says Dorie.

While email is the typical method for building networks these days, avoid approaching your contacts like everyone else and starting with “I love your work.” You can tie whatever commonality you have with that person to mark yourself as a peer, rather than a fan.

Dorie suggests asking yourself, “How do I come in by being helpful?”

Create Your Own Networks

If you’re an introvert, think about where you derive your energy or passion from and create groups from those areas of interest. Dorie explains how she hosts dinner gatherings to bring people together and expand connections.

“People will give you credit for helping facilitate those networks.”


2. Build Your Audience


Once you have established an inner circle and tested out your idea, start to shaAudience-Thought-Leadershipre your knowledge publicly. Make it easy for likeminded people to discover what you’re doing and how to get on board. Online conversations and social media make up a key piece of this step.

By making your ideas accessible online, you can help five, 50 or 500 people, rather than the limited group you would have reached by only emailing those you know.

While you may spend more time and effort on your social media posts, the impact they can have is exponential.


3. Build Your Community


“You know you’ve reached the tipping point when your audience talks to each other,” says Dorie. “That’s where the magic happens.”

Dorie references Help A Reporter Out as an example. What started as a Facebook group, matching PR professionals with reporters, has grown into a service with more than 475,000 sources and 45,000 journalists.

“We need to ask ourselves, ‘Is this idea beneficial to someone besides me?’ Looping back to the first step, how do you spread your ideas? What enables a community to really build is getting advice that is really useful to the rest of the world.”

Want more help with the brainstorming process? Get Dorie’s free 42-page Stand Out Workbook here!

Images: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOSKenny Louie (Creative Commons)