A recent Inc.com article defined a thought leader as “someone who is willing to step into the spotlight and voice their points of view, innovative ideas, and potentially controversial opinions.” In the digital age, taking the stage could mean speaking at events, starting a blog or using LinkedIn as more than just a networking tool. Though positioning yourself or a colleague as a thought leader could be intimidating, check out three reasons why becoming a though leader will grow your business:
Okay, we’ve covered the who and the why. Now let’s hit the what-what does your thought leadership effort look like?
Once you’ve set the foundation for your company’s thought leadership, you’ll build confidence on the topics that matter to you. Add a line in your blogging bio and on your LinkedIn page that promotes your availability to present at related industry events. Apply for speaking opportunities at those events that align with your hot topics. Typically all you need is a title, an abstract of your topic, and your bio. Once chosen, you’ll be sharing your vision with a whole new audience. Ask if you can get a comp table or booth space, and be ready to demo your apps and gather prospects’ names and email addresses for future marketing efforts. And promote your appearance on Facebook and Twitter. It will help cement your role as a thought leader and could lead to other speaking invites.
You may feel like you don’t have much to offer the blogosphere, but in fact, small companies are in a unique position to be thought leaders because of your pinpoint focus on your product(s). When your blog covers topics that matter to your customer base and align with your product, you’ll appeal to readers and grow your client base.
For example, if you have developed software that helps users manage their tasks, you likely have opinions and thoughts on time management, project management, budgeting, and more. Create a list of all the things that you care about in relationship to organization and turn that list into an editorial calendar for your blog. Whether it’s a post a week, or a post a month, start the conversation so you can inspire your followers. Promote your blog to your Facebook and Twitter followers, and of course on your home page. Once they’re inspired, your customers will share your post on their social media sites, and your readership will naturally grow.
Many small businesses overlook LinkedIn as a social media resource. It’s especially important to include LinkedIn in your thought leadership efforts-whether your market is consumer or business. Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, says, “People find more than a job or a candidate. Just as in any other professional environment, people find: business deals, partners, vendors, and customers, even friends.” Start by promoting your blog in your LinkedIn feed. You can connect your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts so this happens automatically.
Ruff offers more helpful advice on how small businesses can use LinkedIn. Be sure to create a company page and then add product pages for each of your software apps. You can leverage your customer network to get the word out about your products, and request product recommendations, creating buzz in a credible social media environment.
There are many software developers who are taking the steps mentioned above and becoming thought leaders in this industry. Have a look at Joel Spolsky, Scott Hanselman or the folks at 37signals for more ideas on the ways CEOs and developers can become thought leaders.
A thought leader starts conversations, takes a stand, celebrates other thought leaders, and gets their followers thinking about big ideas. A thought leader also garners trust and loyalty, bringing customers back for the next big thing. Who is your organization’s thought leader?
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