If you’ve ever wondered what it means to be a thought-leader in your niche, then you are not alone!
Like any industry or sector, entrepreneurship has its buzzwords, and ‘thought-leader’ is certainly one of them. It’s one of those things many aspire to become, but a lot of us aren’t completely sure exactly what it means, or why it’s so important.
To be a thought-leader in your niche is an incredibly powerful thing to do for your business.
In essence, thought-leadership means you are recognised as an authority in your specialised field, so much so that others seek out your expertise and reward you for it.
At its simplest, we can say we are thought-leaders once we reach a stage in business where clients seek us out and hire us to provide a specialised service. But on a much deeper level, thought-leadership isn’t as simple as landing a few clients.
So, What Does It Mean To Be A Thought-Leader In Your Niche
Instead, thought-leadership represents an elite level in business, which you only reach once you’ve made your bones. You can’t simply declare yourself a thought-leader (if only it were so simple!). Rather, it’s something others in your niche recognise you for.
This happens organically as you make a name for yourself in a specialised area and you become known for your zone of genius. More than that, thought-leadership requires recognition from other experts in your area.
When you reach a point where existing leaders in your field are looking to you for advice and following your lead, you’ve effectively established yourself as a thought-leader.
To be a thought-leader in your niche is something you can aspire to, but it’s a mantle you need someone else to bestow upon you.
So how exactly do you make that happen, and more importantly, why should you care?
What exactly does it mean to be a thought-leader in your niche anyway?
Insight, Innovation And Inspiration
The hallmark of the thought-leader is their ability to provide insight into their chosen field, to inspire others working in that area – both professionals and those looking to hire professionals – and to create new things.
Essentially, to innovate.
These are precisely the three traits that make attaining thought-leader status such an appealing prospect for business owners.
What more can we hope for, as entrepreneurs, than to create businesses that inspire our clients and provides them with insight and inspiration?
Digital marketing has made it possible for entrepreneurs to not only make money, but build communities around their products and services, and create movements.
This is great for the people we help because we are able to provide so much more value than companies were capable of offering in the past.
But more than that it’s great for our businesses for three really crucial reasons:
1. Becoming a thought-leader enables you to positively influence others through the content you create, and the products and services you offer. All that positivity is not only great for the world, it results in more followers, greater visibility, and a much higher level of recognition for your business.
2. All that influence results in real tangible change in the world. It might be as simple as making life a little easier for your tribe, or as complex as fueling social revolution, but it makes your business an active agent within society. From the foodie bloggers teaching people how to cook to the tech gurus showing people how to use all the latest gadgets, and the coaches helping people manage their health, wellbeing, and businesses, influence gives you the ability to improve people’s lives in a tangible way. The power you have to change people’s worlds is what converts them from followers to paying clients, which brings me to…
3. A large part of thought-leadership is the recognition of others for your abilities, knowledge, skills, and unique gifts. That recognition comes in many forms, but the main ones are financial rewards and steadfast loyalty. Not only will people happily pay you to enact that change in their lives, but they will also pay you repeatedly. This grants your business sustainability, scalability, and growth, and allows you to change your own life for the positive.
How To Be A Thought-Leader In Your Niche
Carving out a name for yourself in business is one of the most consuming aspects of entrepreneurship.
Whatever you do, once you’ve found your groove and started to develop a great following and successful business, it’s only natural that you’d want to start positioning yourself as a thought-leader. Especially considering all the amazing professional benefits it will bring.
But if it’s not a title you can claim for yourself, and it has to be acknowledged by other people, how exactly are you supposed to go about making it happen?
Here are six things you can do to be a thought-leader in your niche:
1: Become Exceptionally Good At One Very Specific Thing
The first thing to do is to find your niche within your niche.
This is the point where the established ‘norms’ of your niche perfectly intersect with your zone of genius in a way that is really special.
Ideally, it will be something completely unique, but finding a totally unique way to do something standard and otherwise mundane in your niche is just as good.
Getting exceptionally good at this one very specific thing is a great first step.
For one thing, in order to be seen to be an expert in something, you need to have very detailed knowledge about it.
Even if you’re operating in a small niche, the breadth of knowledge required to have that level of understand of every single aspect of it is phenomenal.
By zeroing in on one extremely specific element, you can ensure you know absolutely everything there is to know, and become an expert on that, while still being a all-round knowledgeable professional operating in your niche as a whole.
So find your ‘thing’, and really explore it in detail.
Here are some good places to start:
- Read every book you can find on the subject (remember, it should be an incredibly specific subject, so that shouldn’t be an overwhelming task!).
- Follow good blogs and social media channels on the subject.
- Follow existing thought-leaders who specialise in related areas.
- Familiarise yourself with all the current theories on the subject, as well as its history and development – context is really crucial for understanding, and since history has a way of repeating itself, you may find inspiration for creating the next big innovation in the field.
- Set up some Google Alerts to keep you fully informed on breaking news in your chosen specialty. This will ensure you remain cutting edge and give you a jump start on new theories, methods and ideas.
Look for ways to add an extra twist to the established way of doing things, or enrich the existing knowledge on the subject by bringing your own unique perspective to the subject.
It’s easy to settle for having basic knowledge on a subject, for knowing what everyone else knows and can easily find. It takes a concerted effort to elevate yourself above that and push yourself into the stratosphere, but that’s where the magic happens!
2: Manage Your Searchability And Visibility
This one takes time and patience but it’s super important.
You need to have a strong online presence in order to become known for your chosen specialty. That means ensuring both you and your business are visible, and that if someone searches for you online they see only positive results, This will reinforce your expertise and solidify your position as an expert.
What do people see when they search for your name online?
While there are bound to be a few social media profiles that pop up, you want the first page of search results to be filled with professional credentials.
Top of the list will be your business website, followed by any other professional platforms you may have – your business’ social profiles, rather than your personal ones. Beyond that we want to see your name appearing on professional sites that aren’t owned by you.
And, most importantly, we want all of those results to very clearly link you to what you do.
Not just to your niche, but to the very specific aspect of your niche that you have made your specialty.
Now, what do they see when they search for what you do online?
It will be great when you’re so well known that your name is synonymous with your specialty, and people are told such great things about you that they actively seek you out.
But before that happens you need to be found online, and even once it’s happened you want to perpetuate that organic discovery as much as possible.
For that, you need a strong presence in search engine results (SERPS) when people search for the relevant keywords associated with your niche.
Achieving this requires fully optimising every aspect of your online presence so that your content is constantly appearing on those SERPs, and your name automatically appears with those keywords, even in places where the content wasn’t written by you.
That means creating content with SEO in mind, which is of such great value that other people start to reference it and link to it.
That in itself will boost your SEO by providing you with backlinks (links to your content from other websites, which positively impact your search ranking), but it will also help your name to become synonymous with your specialty.
3: Create A Strong Personal Brand
One of the potential problems with becoming a thought-leader is the personal nature of it.
Innovators and trailblazers are generally seen to be individuals, rather than companies, and when it comes to visibility, in particular, it’s a lot easier to establish yourself as an expert if there is a strong personal element to your branding.
That may mean you are the ‘face’ of your brand, and as the CEO/founder of your company, the business ethos revolves around your:
- World view