How to Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader in 5 Easy Steps

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ThinkToday’s question comes from a busy professional:

How do I personally brand myself as a thought leader in my field?

1. Put Yourself Out There

The first steps is to simply put yourself out there. There are many opportunities to gain visibility.

  • Offer to speak at professional organizations and conferences.
  • Search the Internet for “calls for papers” and “calls for speakers” — then submit your abstract and start speaking.
  • Write a book or create a program that you can refer to during your talk.
  • Create a patent, invention, or new process to solve an industry problem.
  • Use social media to start promoting your talks, books, and programs.
  • Put out videos on YouTube about your field of interest.
  • Get a professional photograph of yourself and use that same photo on all your social media accounts, status reports, proposals, etc.

2. Become a Master in Your Craft

  • Always be in the learning and experimenting mode.
  • Have mentors, coaches, and/or teachers that have accomplished the things you want to accomplish and achieve.
  • Teach and mentor others. By training others to take your place, you are making the space to move to your next level.

3. Create Your Brand

Create your own personal and professional brand and mission statement.

  • Compose a succinct “What I Do” statement or 30-second pitch, such that when people hear it, they know immediately what you do.
  • Establish a recognizable brand, signature, or logo, such that people know immediately what you stand for. Think of Olivia Pope (a fixer) in the top-rated TV series Scandal.   Her simple brand is a white hat, and she often wears white. This immediately denotes “White Knight”: the good guy; someone that rides in to save the day. A pretty good brand and logo for the political fixer.
  • Update your email and social media signatures to include your “What I Do” statement, your brand/logo, and a professional photo.

4. Surround Yourself With Thought Leaders

People will see you with experts, and they’ll assume you are an expert as well.

  • Interview other thought leaders.
  • Start associating with other thought leaders.
  • Facilitate and emcee where other thought leaders speak.
  • Attend professional association meetings and participate in online discussions.
  • Reach out to authors in your space and invite them to speak at your professional organizations, business department, and community.
  • Create your own catalyst event and invite experts in your area.
  • Find a sponsor that is considered an authority in their field (not necessarily in your field). Think of celebrities: even though they are not experts in politics, celebrities opinions are often given more weight — simply because they are  “famous.”

5. Take a Different Perspective

  • Speak your opinion and knowledge in such a way that uplifts others, even when you disagree with them. For example, add your knowledge as an extension of or addition to their knowledge, instead of against it.
  • Create a new way to solve an old problem.
  • Focus on where the market and technology is going, instead of where it is today. A good example of what not to do is Blu-ray: by the time Blu-ray came out, the industry was already moving toward live streaming. Today, very few laptops, tablets, notebooks, or other mobile devices even come with disc drives. This has limited the life span of Blu-ray.

In short, there is so much you can do — and most of it doesn’t cost anything but passion, desire, and talent.

For more information on everything discussed here, feel free to reach out to Laura:

By Laura Lee Rose