The market seems to have taken a sudden turn and now demands companies stand out in other ways. This is the time to get yourself established as the best thought leader in your field!

Being a thought leader usually involves writing – articles, blogs and even books – as well as speaking – live or on video.

Thought leadership can win you more business. All it takes is for you to create a profile and get known for a message that others notice and respond to. Once you have established yourself as a thought leader, there is real scope for you to transform your business. From the CEO or MD, to every employee, anyone can stand out for important ideas that add real value for your customers and clients.

 
 

I discovered four simple steps to becoming a thought leader. Just think, am I REAL? REAL thought leadership defines four key attributes which, if achieved, will give business people a greater chance of being seen as thought leaders in their industry.

What Does REAL Stand For?

REAL thought leadership contains four elements: Reach, Engagement, Authority and Longevity.

Reach

Reach involves recognition amongst the community of would-be clients or customers. Get yourself some speaking engagements at places where your potential customers might be. Being at these sorts of events increases the likelihood that you will be remembered – and people tend to buy from people they know.

You may have heard people say that it’s about quality, not quantity. Well, I think it’s about both. If you don’t have many followers, subscribers or connections, you risk being just a legend in your own living room! What you do and what you have to offer may be great, and lots of people need to know about it, and about you.

Engagement

Then you can start the Engagement. The best way to achieve engagement is by creating more personalized communications with your audience. Social media lends itself to this and some companies are using this method very successfully, with key individuals interacting with contacts and followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other platforms.

My most successful clients take time to engage with individuals, not just broadcast. They use people’s names and tag them in posts. They reply to questions and comments, and that way everyone can see how responsive they are.

Authority

The third element of the REAL standard implies that you must become a true Authority in your industry. This is what secures you as the trusted brand and no one else. In other words, you are beginning to stand out in your field.

One of the best ways to is to begin to establish yourself as bold – boldness is what enables you to speak out with confidence about what your business offers. Everyone has opinions but few people get to be known as influencers for their opinions. That’s usually because the message is not clear enough or simple enough.

In my workshops, we usually must strip away lots of fluffy language, metaphors and boring, “vanilla” descriptions. This lets us get to the heart of what someone has to say. I recommend you get some feedback on your current content and communications; just contact me if you want us to look at it.

Not only must the business be seen as an Authority, but key individuals must also stand out. Every client or customer of yours would like to feel they know what the CEO or managing director stands for. If you are the business owner, you are the business, as far as your customers are concerned.

There are some things you can delegate, but thought leadership is not one of them! Once you have shared your thought leadership internally, you can get others in your business to share their own particular angles on the subject.

It’s too much pressure to have one person in the spotlight all the time, so sharing the load is a practical thing to do; it also gives others the chance to shine and become thought leaders in their own right.

Longevity

Finally, Longevity depends on your ideas being remembered long after you have left a meeting or long after someone has read material of yours. Longevity means you and your organization stay in people’s minds for the right reasons.

The full-length book in print is still the best builder of credibility available to us, yet so few people write and publish books. Having worked with hundreds of business people on their books, I have seen many authors win business by publishing a good book that demonstrates Authority and Longevity. If you want to know how to leave a legacy by writing a good book, get in touch with us anytime.

Creating a culture of thought leadership definitely starts at the top. Establish yourself with Reach and top it up by Engaging with your clients and potential customers. Then you can establish an Authority that will make people remember you in Longevity.

What do you think are the qualities of a strong leader? Is there a person you have known who has been a REAL leader? What questions do you have about thought leadership? Please share in the comments section.

Mindy Gibbins-KleinMindy Gibbins-Klein MBA, FPSA, FRSA is a multi-award-winning international speaker, author and thought leadership strategist. Founder and CEO of REAL Thought Leaders, The Book Midwife® and Panoma Press, Mindy has authored and co-authored eight books. For more information on Mindy Gibbins-Klein, visit her website.

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