A thought leader is someone in your industry who promotes discussion of new ideas and executes innovative ideas. Being a thought leader generally means you’re at the top of the game in your industry. No matter what your standing, you can become a thought leader if you follow these steps.
If you want to be a thought leader in your industry, then you’ve got to keep up to date on everything going on in your industry. The best way to do this is to read trade magazines. Trade magazines give you all the latest news and trends that are happening in your line of work.
Nowadays, most of these trade magazines have websites so you can receive daily news rather than just monthly news. There are industry news websites for literally every kind of business, from entertainment news to P&C news (not kidding). There’s not one market that doesn’t have an established trade news magazine or website. Bookmark these websites on your web browser and make it a habit to read through them in the morning and at night.
Another great way to stay informed is to talk regularly with other business people in your industry. Use a professional networking site to expand your network of people in your industry, or attend monthly meet-and-greets and discussion groups in your area (like with trade magazines, most industries have these types of networking groups). You can also expand your network by attending industry trade shows and conferences.
Schedule for Innovation
It’s not enough to stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. If you want to be a thought leader, you’ve also got to contribute new ideas. But it’s always easier to innovate when you’re well-informed. When you read or listen to industry-related discussions, be sure to use your critical thinking skills to form your own opinions. Here are a few general fields of thought on which you’ll want to form opinions about:
- How is the industry going to be shaped by new technology?
- Are industry trends going to last?
- Are industry trends going to be good or bad for business?
- How can your industry move into untapped markets?
- What’s the latest in SEO practices?
If you’re a business owner or if you’re just a hardworking professional, you might find it difficult to find the time to think long and hard about these questions. Consider scheduling some thought innovation time into your work schedule (really helps if you use some kind of time management software). You should also remember to write down any spontaneous ideas that you get during the day so you don’t forget them.
Share Your Ideas
All right, so you’re informed on everything that’s happening in your industry and you’ve developed some unique ideas or conversation topics of your own—what now? Well now it’s time to truly be a thought leader and share your ideas with the rest of the industry.
There are lots of different ways you can go about this. You can write blog content for your website, or you can post your ideas to your LinkedIn feed. Go to discussion groups and share your ideas with colleagues. And be sure to debate your ideas within your own company.
And if your ideas are actionable, then you might actually want to execute them at your own company.
Listen to Ideas
A thought leader doesn’t only throw ideas at the wall. A good thought leader is mainly concerned with promoting positive discussion in your industry. That means you should listen to other people’s opinions just as much as you give your own. Listening will give you better insight into how other companies in your industry operate, and other professionals will likely have valuable experience pertaining to some of the ideas you’re diving into.
Surround Yourself with a Good Team
It’s hard to be a thought leader all on your own! If you want to be an innovator in your industry, it’s important that you surround yourself with a good team of people. The people you work with should be intelligent, hardworking, and similarly well-informed on everything that’s going on in the industry. But what’s also important is that your team encompasses a variety of different viewpoints.
If everyone on your team has the same opinion and worldview, then you won’t be able to get a good mixture of ideas or business solutions. Don’t shelter yourself around people who always see what you do. Strive to surround yourself with people who have different approaches to industry solutions.
As a thought leader, you’ll be able to help people who work in your industry. Just follow these few leadership steps.