thought leader

So how exactly do you gain credibility as an industry thought leader ? Here are 6 things you can do to start establishing yourself as a trusted expert in your industry. It's no surprise that they all have to do with content creation ...

6 Ways to Become an Industry Thought Leader

1. Maintain an Active Business Blog: Launching a blog that covers important topics relating to the industry in which you're selling is perhaps the best way to establish and uphold your image as a thought leader. A well-written blog will make prospects and current customers confident that the products and services they buy from you are created using industry expertise. Not only will maintaining an active business blog reward you with a more credible industry presence, but when done right, it will also afford you additional business benefits such as improved lead generation and a boost in search engine optimization.

2. Contribute Guest Blog Posts: Once you start gaining traction as a credible business blogger using your own blog, it's also a great idea to seek opportunities to contribute guest articles to the blogs of other industry thought leaders. Being recognized by already-established thought leaders as a credible source and contributor will further legitimize your industry expertise.

3. Publish Long-Form Content: Publishing longer form content such as ebooks, whitepapers, and even webinars shows prospects and customers that your knowledge about given topics expands beyond 600-word blog posts. By publishing well-crafted, educational ebooks or other downloadable content, you'll demonstrate that you're capable of thought leadership on an even higher scale.

4. Launch Your Own Podcast: An alternative or complement to blogging, launching a regularly scheduled audio or video podcast is another great way to exhibit thought leadership. Consider discussing important industry-related topics or news and inviting other industry experts to join you as guests to create an even deeper level of credibility.

5. Speak at Conferences/Events: Your thought leadership doesn't have to be limited to the web. Live, in-person conferences and events are valuable marketing assets, and a presence at these gatherings can be valuable to any business' marketing efforts. Apply to speak at these types of industry events. Start with smaller events to introduce yourself into your industry's speaking circuit, and work your way up to larger, more prestigious events once you've gained more experience and respect as a speaker. Once you've secured speaking engagements, always be sure to make your presentations as educational and non-promotional as possible to achieve maximum credibility.

6. Answer Questions in Social Media: This is perhaps one of the easiest thought leadership tactics to keep up with on an ongoing basis. Social media is littered with people trying to learn more or find answers to questions they have. Monitoring social media sites for industry-related questions can help you identify opportunities to share your expertise. LinkedIn Answers is the perfect platform for this, allowing you to search users' questions by industry and topic. Also consider using Twitter Search to find users' questions on Twitter. Quora and Facebook are also great places to search. Once you've identified questions for which you can provide a helpful response, answer it in an informative, non-promotional way. (Bonus points if you can link to a blog post you've written that expands on the topic in question!)

Leave Promotion at the Door

I've said it a few times throughout this blog post, but it's important to emphasize that one of the keys to becoming an authentic thought leader in your industry is to leave promotion at the door. Even the tiniest inkling of being too overly promotional can seriously undermine your credibility as an industry expert.

On the other hand, if people start to trust you and respect you as an industry thought leader, the indirect result will be greater trust in the products and services you have to offer, and ultimately, more business!

In what other ways can you exhibit your industry thought leadership ?

Photo Credit: Jacob Boetter

Originally published Aug 9, 2011 3:00:00 PM, updated September 23 2022