How do you go from anonymity to trusted guru?
Four words: B2B PR Thought Leadership.
Once upon a time -- think pre-Internet days -- it wasn't easy to break out from the pack unless you had amazing skills and/or a big budget. The Internet changed all that making it easier to embrance the mantle of guru. Yet, many people still hesitate to be full-fledged thought leaders. They worry they don't have enough knowledge or skill. Remember: You only need to know a little more than the next person in your chosen field to be hepful.
So, how do you put yourself into potential clients' minds as being a trusted leader in your industry? How do you get clients knocking down your door for some face time? Read on to find out....
What Is Thought Leadership?
Lines get a little blurred when trying to nail down a solid definition of what thought leadership is and what it's not. Countless articles have been written on this subject. Thought Leadership Lab answered it nicely and succinctly when it said, "Thought leaders are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas."
This may feel like going from 0 to 60 within a matter of seconds, but don't worry. There are a series of attainable steps in the interim that will make this process feel easier -- as long as you're willing to invest a little time and effort.
1. Nail Down Your Personal Brand
If you're going to lead, you need to know exactly who or what you're leading. Knowing your brand, and all its elements is essential. Whether you're providing a product or a service, there are certain questions you need to answer. Here are the key ones:
- What is your niche, or area of expertise?
- What qualities make up your brand's personality?
- What is your brand's strategy?
- What is your brand's voice?
This goes beyond the run-of-the-mill, dictionary definition of your brand. You want to delve into what your brand means, what it stands for, what it opposes, and its benefits. The aim is to build a story that will resonate with your audience.
2. B2B PR and Thought Leadership Join Forces Online
Now that you have figured out your personal brand, it's time to put it to work. You likely have social media profiles already, as part of your B2B PR, but it's time to update them to coincide with your new personal brand. Use this as an opportunity to make your company shine, and stand apart from your competitors. Be sure to include a detailed description of your credentials and career accomplishments. (Click here to find out more about standing out on LinkedIn as a thought leader.)
Your blog is a pivotal component in crafting your online presence. This is what is going to build a strong sense of trust and credibility between you and your audience (aka, potential clients). Distinguish it so that readers not only find reliable answers to their questions, but also a reason to remember your name and keep coming back.
Ensure that the maximum number of people come into contact with your blog by posting regularly and syndicating your posts on your social media channels. (For more great ways to grow your business and get noticed, click here.)
3. Get Out There - The Root of All B2B PR
This is the networking step of the process, and it is an essential part of your B2B PR. Let your walls down, so to speak. Shake hands, rub shoulders, get your face out there - whatever you want to call it. Get out from behind that online persona that you have created, and let people see you represent your company on the front lines.
Get to know and network with the some of the big names in your industry in an atmosphere conducive to exchanging ideas and learning from one another. Register for and attend industry events where you'll meet industry limelights. Seek speaking opportunities whenever possible. This is where you can get your name and face into people's minds. Don't be afraid to start small in terms of speaking opportunities. Your local chamber of commerce is a good rehearsal stage for bigger opportunties down the road.
4. Show Off Your Affiliations
Many times it can come down to who you know that will give you the credibility you seek. Highly-respected individuals, organizations, or institutions within your industry lend weight to your presence. Where did you go to school? Did you mentor under an industry leader? Do you have testimonials from heavy-weight industry experts? Use them all. Many times, people within the same industry are willing and happy to help out in this way.
5. Get Published
Yes, you have your own blog now, and that's great! Now the trick is getting published in publications (in print and online) in your industry. Reach out to do guest posts on industry websites. Again, don't worry about starting small -- maybe guest blogging on a niche site. You can gradually work your way up the content food chain. This gets your name out there and associated with other, possibly more highly regarded, industry leaders.
This isn't a "do-it-once-and-forget-it" deal. The more often you do this, the more your audience - and your authority - will grow.
6. Push the Envelope
A respected authority knows his industry well, and can keep up with the status quo as much as the next guy. A thought leader, however, has his nose out ahead of the pack, sniffing out new ideas, and blazing trails that others will follow.
Now that you've gained the authority in your industry, you're ready to strike out ahead of the rest. Your goal is not to create completely new ideas, but to push the envelope by expanding and improving current ideas and trends. You don't have to reinvent the wheel - just tweak it in some key areas to make your industry that much better.
Are you ready to put these steps into action? I hope to see your name rise above the rest as a leader in your industry!