by Cameron Tyler, Technected
Thought leaders are known for their opinions, innovative ideas and knowledge about their industry -- and are rewarded for their status through social media acclaim, speaking opportunities and business referrals.
To become a thought leader, you must be thought of as an authority on the Internet where people looking for information about your industry find that you have the insider tips and tricks they seek. Thought leaders that come to mind include personalities like Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Stanford economist Paul Romer, who are known for their expertise and talent, as well as for the ways in which they share their knowledge with others.
Thought Leaders are Everywhere
Thought leaders arise in every discipline and industry. For example, the warehouse and fulfillment industry may seem staid and fairly automated at a glance. Yet fulfillment specialist Fifth Gear has sought to become a thought leader in the fulfillment order by thinking and talking at a high level about ways to enhance the user experience of order fulfillment. Fifth Gear recently sponsored the NEMOA Spring 2012 directXchange Conference, and participated in a panel discussion on best practices in the fulfillment industry.
Tips for Leading Thinking in Your Industry
To begin thinking like these leaders, first groom yourself intellectually. Begin by learning everything you can about your industry. Knowing its history gives you greater insight into current information peaks and valleys in your industry and helps you pay attention to issues at a national or global level that inform your line of work. Read books, follow blogs and look for Twitter innovators in your industry. As you become further educated, form opinions on what can affect your industry and find your niche. Thought leaders that are successful can't have an authoritative opinion on everything, but they can have well-researched, knowledgeable positions on select areas within their industry. While you'd trust Paul Romer's financial advice, would you be as likely to trust his opinions on the best restaurants in your city, or let him troubleshoot your tech problems?
Starting to Shine
While you will never stop learning and thinking about innovations within your industry, once you feel like you have a handle on issues and trends, it's time to find a stage. There are many ways to get your voice out there. Some thought leaders prefer to wield a personal presence, and they might look for speaking engagements, panel presentations and podcasts to appear on. The Internet gives you more power to create your own opportunity to shine. Delve into Twitter, start a blog and guest post on others' blogs to begin getting your voice out there. Connect with other thought leaders in your industry and promote their opinions; this goodwill will come back around as they retweet and respond to your wise words.
Forecasting trends will get you noticed, so pay attention to current events and how they might impact your industry. Strong opinions will get more attention than mild ones. Social media helps you promote your ideas to others who might be interested.
Take chances that arise to show your strong ideas, whether it's guest posting on blogs, starting petitions about issues that matter to you or doing favors for others in the field. It can take time to start from ground zero, but you will get noticed as a thought leader if you keep trying.
Cameron Tyler is a driven young business professional, with a passion for leadership and technology. He admins the tech blog Technected and Professional Intern where he discusses current tech issues and how to empower others.
Website: Technected.com | Twitter: @camstryker