Thought leadership is no longer an Internet marketing buzzword/fad. It’s a respected piece of the marketing puzzle that is valued by prospective customers and search engines. However, individuals who need to establish online thought leadership the most, CEOs, execs and other visionary/leader types, are the least likely to have the right mix of time, discipline and digital know-how to do it well and efficiently. It doesn’t have to be that way. The following is a primer for actual thought leaders interested in taking the first step towards being known on the Internet for what’s in their brains.
Why Produce Thought Leadership?
The Internet is crowded with content and it’s only getting worse. It’s a virtual cacophony of voices and the digital presence you may have once enjoyed has been drowned under a deluge of psycho-babble, pseudo-science and the general clamor of modern day snake oil salesmen. It’s a hard scrabble digital dustbowl. You can’t get into content marketing heaven with words alone anymore. You actually have to do something intelligent to make it through the pearly gates. Faith doesn’t cut it. You gotta work for your digital salvation.
Where Should Thought Leadership Live?
To start with, begin at home. By that I mean you should start with creating a presence on your organization’s home page. If you have a blog on your website, begin crafting your thoughts into blog posts at least once a month and more frequently if you can. If you want to be known in your community or vertical, you can’t be a digital hermit. You need to come out of your cave and give an occasional nugget of wisdom to your followers. And starting with your website is the easiest way to begin. Once you’re comfortable with the process, sharing thought leadership on LinkedIn is a good idea. If you have a monthly e-newsletter, that can provide a good platform as well.
What Should Actually be Written?
If you’re stuck on what kind of content to craft, begin with what you’re most passionate and care most deeply about. That’s most likely to result in content which will interest and intrigue readers. You may have deep insights and passion about multiple aspects of your business vertical, relationship-building, how to create a positive and effective corporate culture, leadership tips—virtually all the experiences packed into your resume can provide thought leadership fodder. Brainstorming with colleagues is often a fun and fruitful exercise if you’re stuck.
How Should It Get Done?
You may not be a great writer. That’s okay. You don’t need to be. But what you can do is take fifteen minutes every day to get the thoughts in your head onto paper. Get them scribbled down longhand, or in a Word doc—whatever works for you. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation, just get the thoughts out. Your job here isn’t to produce a piece of polished prose—you have people in your organization or elsewhere who can do that for you. Your job is to provide the thought leadership fodder that someone else can tee off on. It’s also your job to have the discipline it takes to produce the scribble in consistent intervals; i.e., create a routine and hold yourself to it. Leaders have great thoughts. Great leaders are consistent.
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