What is thought leadership? Can average people become thought leaders and influencers? Yes, we all can! You don't have to have the looks of a model or some mad talents. You build influence by being fully yourself all the time and showing it to the world on a regular basis and a public platform. All of us are born with a voice. Even those who can't use their vocal cords to speak aloud still have a voice because it comes from deep inside you. I define “voice” by your heart and your head working in-harmony to express your unique perspectives and talents to others in a way they make people feel something, widen their views, inspires them, educates them, and hopefully lead them to change or spread your ideas further to others.
Some people's voices are louder than others, not only literally but also figuratively. We call those people thought leaders or influencers. Are influencers somehow superior to others? No, absolutely not! The only difference is that they make a decision to share their thoughts publically. ANYONE can be an influencer. And you never know who you may be influencing. Don't think of influence as the number of followers or likes a person has. Everyone starts at nothing. Influence can happen anytime you share your views, opinions, expertise, or personal or professional wins and failures publically.
Why become an influencer? Some may associate influence with ego because those who call themselves such often seem to focus mainly on their own popularity. But I am here to encourage you to use your influence for a higher purpose: You have a gift inside you that no one else has! Please share it with us. You already have it and may already be using it, with or without knowing it. Not only will you increase your personal brand value but also create for yourself opportunities that you don't otherwise have. Some of the positive outcomes of being an influencer are getting invited to speak on podcasts, shows, at live or virtual events, and to write articles or books on your topics of expertise. It definitely also can lead to lucrative job offers or business opportunities.
Here are some steps to finding and developing your influence:
1. Start with your superpower -what do you know beyond a doubt that you can help people with/are passionate about/would do all day for free if you could?
2. Elaborate on your credentials. Tell us how your background/experience/personal transformation makes you qualified to help others in a specific area.
3. What are the qualities of your ideal audience? Whom do you enjoy helping the most? I created this customer avatar worksheet in case you need more help figuring this out.
4. What makes you unique? Tell us about your style! Are you quirky? Are you funny? Or maybe you are a strong introvert. We want to know more about you since audiences aren't just attracted by expertise but by personality.
5. Do you have a unique name for your business, brand, blog, or channels? What is it? Are you sure no one has registered that name (or has a similar name that your audience may confuse you by someone else)? Have you trademarked a business name and created account names with it on all major social media channels so no one else can use it but you? Having a clear and consistent use of naming will help your searchable and brand recognition. That's why it is important to define it and use it everywhere. If you married or divorced and are using your name for your brand, make sure to update your profiles everywhere. Same thing for your job titles. Keep all your profiles consistent and updated.
6. Do you currently have a tagline to let people know who you are and attract your ideal audience? The goal of a tagline is to provide clarity with a twist to make you memorable. Your tagline summarizes in one phrase what you do. On my profiles, I have used the tagline “Business Coaching Program for Entrepreneurs and Authentic Marketer” so that people can instantly know what I'm about.
7. How about a personalized hashtag? This is a great idea to track your posts on platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram. You can invite people to follow your hashtag to get your posts. My hashtags are #thesassymethod and #creativek and most recently #contentonfire
8. Which high-volume keywords are you using for your brand? To discover hashtags to use and follow that are relevant to your areas of expertise, check out this article from Linkedin. It definitely makes a difference when you use the right hashtags. It is especially valuable when your post trends under one hashtag because it greatly increases your organic exposure so new people will discover and follow you.
9. What are your brand colors and logo? Do you know what these colors signify and are communicating visually about you? Some people may tell you this isn’t important but they don’t understand – colors influence your feelings. You are attracted to a brand without even realizing it partially by the colors and graphic style they use. Even if you don't use a symbol, your business name should be stylized so people recognize you. It looks impressive and professional to have something to show for your business. If you'd like a professional consultation, look no further than Profinder for qualified graphic designers.
10. Do you have brand assets for yourself (website, email signature, branded documents, business cards, explainer video, etc)? Even if you don't run a business, it is a nice idea to create a website or blog to reserve to URL with your personal name. And if you really want to build authority in your area of expertise, consider also writing a book. And if you want to hire a professional to help with any of these assets for you, again you can use Profinder.
11. Do you have a content strategy? If you talk about anything and everything, people will lose interest as generally, followings happen around specific topics. If, for example, you are a health coach, and you suddenly stop talking about health and switch to speaking about horses, your audience may unfollow you because their interest is health. To develop a strong content strategy, I recommend following the five C's.
12. Do you have strong relationships with others specializing in your area of expertise? Strategically connecting with influencers in your field is a major advantage. It is the foundation for collaborations and guest appearances on others' podcasts or shows, guest blogging for them or vice versa, public speaking, or job opportunities.
13. Do you stay current with new developments in your field? Taking courses, getting certificates or even additional diplomas, attending seminars, or participating in conferences are all ways you may expand your depth of knowledge in your area of expertise.
14. Do you feel comfortable on-stage or in front of a camera? Video and stages are very powerful tools to build self-confidence, influence, and spread ideas. If you feel shy, there are many excellent coaches here on Linkedin who specialize in helping with this.
To summarize, your influence matters. Using your voice is a gift. I can't wait to discover your content!