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Despite possessing more Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and more professional level jobs, women still only make up 14.6% of executive positions in the US. While this is cause for concern, one area that female entrepreneurs are dominating the industry is in the gig economy and personal branding.
Whether it’s fashion bloggers or scientists delivering TED Talks, female entrepreneurs and activists dominate thought leadership across most industries. When you think of thought leadership, do you think of Ginni Rometty from IBM or Elon Musk from Tesla? Maybe it’s both.
Thought leadership is essentially an eponym but primarily refers to establishing authority over topics in your niche. For all entrepreneurs, activists, and business leaders, the importance of personal branding and thought leadership cannot be understated. Between higher marketing value and more trust among your readers or customers, developing yourself into a thought leader truly is a million dollar idea.
To get started, you need to establish expertise over a subject in your industry. This will involve hundreds of hours of education and research to fully master and understand a subject through-and-through. The next step is to create content that showcases this mastery. Ideas include:
- A research book
- White paper
- Website and blog that focuses on related topics
- Keynote speeches at industry conferences
- Interviews with other thought leaders in your industry
- Guest posts on highly authoritative sites sharing your ideas and unique perspective
Use your content to showcase expertise and produce consistent content to continually connect with your base.
Create a Voice and an Identity
Sticking with the idea in the last point, you must establish a unique voice if you want to differentiate yourself from the noise in your industry. From mommy bloggers to fashionistas, these people offer something different that appeals to their audience directly and impresses them.
Through your content creation, you’ll want to establish a unique voice. Don’t be afraid to express opinions; just be able to defend them in an argument or debate. Show that you are competent and creative. Just because you know everything about developing apps means nothing if you can’t add anything to the conversation on it.
Build an Audience
Build it and they will come right? Not exactly. Becoming a thought leader requires building an audience first. No one can simply declare themselves a thought leader.
This is where your content will come in handy. Consider promoting your new book with paid media services that can reach specific thought leaders and audience members in your industry. Create your own branded website and URL to showcase your content and connect to your social media field to host a conversation with your most dedicated followers.
The more exposure you receive online, whether it’s just having your content register highly in search results or having your name mentioned in a few blog posts, you will slowly build up your authority.
Authenticity is so important in today’s world. More and more consumers expect brands to stand up for social issues and take up causes, although this comes down to personal preference.
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself through your content. Consumers demand brands to tell stories. Stories connect with customers on a deeper level by appealing to their personal sentiments. Share your story and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. It’s not shallow or vapid; it’s authentic.
The best tip I could have provided to become a thought leader is to simply work at it. Use your hard work thus far and advertise it. Don’t be afraid to strut your stuff and to be you. Boring truly is boring and people are looking for new innovators and voices who are willing to challenge the status quo and shake up the world.