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Standing out as the go-to expert in your field can be tough in today’s noisy world. However, there are some specific steps you can take to become known as a trusted thought leader in the world of entrepreneurship.
Seven ways to gain credibility as a thought leader:
- Pick a niche
Don’t try to be an expert in everything. Choose a single area in which to be an expert—and look for a niche.
Rather than label yourself a “social media expert,” become a “Facebook marketing expert.” Then, narrow your expertise down even more to become a “Facebook marketing expert for health professionals.”
Although a small niche will narrow your market, it’ll also showcase your expertise. And, it will help you attract the right audience for your message.
- Focus on consuming, not producing
Many people claim to be “marketing experts” or “personal branding experts” with little education, experience and information. To truly become an expert, you need to devote countless hours to learning.
If you truly want to become a thought leader, you have to understand your topic inside and out. You have to fully understand the problems before you try to develop solutions.
Attend seminars, read books, ask questions and gain experience. Don’t start telling people to do things differently until you have a complete grasp on your subject matter.
- Identify your strengths
There are many self-proclaimed industry experts out there. You need to add value to the conversation, but don’t purposely try to make yourself different just for the shock value. Dying your hair purple and arguing with established experts as a way to get attention will make you stand out for the wrong reasons.
Know your strengths and build on them. You’ll naturally attract followers when you’re paving the way with confidence.
- Gain hands-on experience
No one will believe you’re a Twitter expert if you only have 200 Twitter followers, just like no one will want to hear your entrepreneurial advice if you’ve never actually started your own company.
Regurgitating what you read in a book or a strategy you once used in your business won’t make you credible. Instead, you need to be able to share hands-on stories and case studies of how you’ve helped other people.
Whether you are a life coach who helps people lose weight or you’re a financial expert who helps others become millionaires, you need evidence that your strategies work in the real-world.
Test your ideas and methods on real people. Then, focus on showing—rather than just telling—others why your methods are effective.
- Network with other thought leaders
What you know is only half the battle. Who you know can be instrumental in helping you gain credibility as a thought leader.
Cooperate, rather than compete, with other leaders in your industry. Reach out to influential people, share their ideas and give them credit, and show appreciation for their work.
- Develop strategies to spread your message
Once you have the knowledge, experience and ideas that make you a true thought leader, consider how you’re going to spread your message.
While a personal blog may work for one person, writing for an established website might be the best option for someone else. Consider which videos, articles or podcasts will best reach your audience.
Experiment with a variety of platforms. Over time, you’ll see which strategies are most effective.
- Build your online presence
Declaring yourself a “thought leader” doesn’t make you one. You need other people to recognize how your ideas add value to the industry.
Your website and social media accounts are key to getting started. But, you need to spread your message further if you’re going to gain credibility as a thought leader.
Keep looking for opportunities to attract attention for your ideas. Media mentions, speaking engagements, workshops, online courses and a book can really help you cement your place as an expert. Pitch your ideas to meeting planners, journalists and editors.
Securing your place as a thought leader won’t happen overnight. It takes time and persistence to gain expertise and recognition.