Thought leaders are the informed, go-to people in their fields of expertise. For small business owners, becoming a thought leader within one’s industry can open up the doors to numerous opportunities for business growth.
But while many strive for thought leadership, few actually know how to achieve it. Below are six ways startups and small business owners can become known as thought leaders in their fields.
1. Develop a Strong Personal Brand
For small business owners to have an impact on others, they need to be able to stand out from the crowd and know who they are and what their business represents. Consider the following questions as you create your personal brand:
What do you want your brand’s voice to be?
Also, what are your values?
Even more, what is your story? Why did you develop your company in the first place?
How would you describe yourself to others?
Having the answers to these questions will help you better to resonate with your audience.
2. Find Your Niche
It’s impossible to be everything to everybody. In fact, small business owners to try to please every possible customer base typically wind up with a diluted message and, in turn, a diluted market share. Instead, focus on understanding your target audience and how you can best engage with them to address their wants, interests, pain points, and needs. The more entrepreneurs can hone in on who these people are, the more likely they’ll be able to reach their audience and establish thought leadership with them.
To define your niche, consider the following:
What problem do you and your business solve and who would benefit from these solutions?
Also, what are the demographics and psychographics of your audience?
Again, what does your ideal customer look like?
Finally, who are your current customers?
Invest the time to discover who your audience is. It will make your road to thought leadership much easier.
Becoming a thought leader will first require building a network within which you can share your personal voice. This network should include existing thought leaders within your field as well as those that you’d like to establish thought leadership with.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, here. Observe the actions of other industry influencers and mentors, and follow their lead. Start engaging with them by interacting with them on social media, commenting on their blog posts, sharing their content, or introducing yourself at a conference. The more you can establish connections with these thought leaders, the more likely you are to be seen as a fellow thought leader by association.
As important as online networking is, it’s also important to engage with people in person. Go to local networking events, attend conferences, or even offer to do a public speaking engagement at an industry meetup. Do what it takes to get yourself in front of the right people consistently.
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