4 Steps to Becoming an Influencer Within Your Industry

Many CEOs simply think of thought leadership as a marketing strategy, but it has the capacity to change an industry while expanding personal—and company—success. According to Hinge Research Institute, thought leaders can earn 14 times more than their professional counterparts. Furthermore, 93% of people said thought leadership content makes a company look more favorable.

Furthermore, influential CEOs can fuel excitement in the workplace. Employees want to work for companies whose leaders speak up about where the industry is headed and how they’re leading the way, and thought leadership does that by teaching, not boasting.

However, no CEO can simply wake up one day and declare his or herself a thought leader— your industry makes that decision. With the right steps, however, this status can be earned. Here are 4 pointers to get you started.

1. Develop a personal brand. Your personal brand should align closely with your company brand, but you need to stand out as an individual. People listen to thought leaders like entrepreneur and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, because he brings something new to the table and shares a unique perspective. Amid vague business advice often masked by jargon, he’s unapologetically honest and charismatic, always offering his audience actionable takeaways. Perhaps that’s why his YouTube channel boasts more than 720,000 subscribers.

“About 47% of buyers will view 3-5 pieces of content before they even consider talking to a salesperson, which means you need to be contributing to the conversation within your industry.”

Base your brand on what makes you unique, even if it means being vulnerable. If you’ve gained wisdom through hard lessons, you must share those experiences.

2. Start creating content. About 47% of buyers will view 3-5 pieces of content before they even consider talking to a salesperson, which means you need to be contributing to the conversation within your industry. In fact, your content may drive the person to your company to begin with.

The easiest way to get started is to establish and manage a blog. Organize a list of important topics, and create relevant content that positions you as a credible resource. Then build a strategy for how you will socialize that content to reach your specific audience. And remember that quality is key. By publishing, republishing and sharing only the highest-quality content, I was able to grow my social media reach to 21 million readers.

3. Join forces with other influencers. When other influencers believe in your message, they will share it with their followers, who will then become your followers as well.

For example, when one of my articles was syndicated to The Huffington Post’s Ellevate Network blog, it resulted in more than 300 additional shares and helped me reach a wider audience. True thought leaders are trusted by their peers. They reach this point by consistently offering high-quality insights—not by making enemies.

4. Be distinct. Thought leaders do more than make existing information easier to digest. To disrupt people’s thinking, you have to say something new and stir things up. Tim Ferriss, for instance, has a massive following because he’s not afraid to share his unfiltered views about his industry.

Think about the people you follow on social media. Why do you follow them? What, for you, gives their voice value? Consider the practices that you think work in capturing your attention and your respect.

Your message may be powerful, but you need to take the right steps to get your voice heard. Becoming an authority in your industry starts with sharing your unique perspective through high-quality content.

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Sarah Clark
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, a public relations firm that creates conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. Clark has more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and a track record of protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.

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