By Evan Nierman, founder & CEO of Red Banyan, an international crisis communications firm, and author of Amazon bestseller Crisis Averted.
These days, it’s not enough to just be great at your job. If you want to stand out, you must find ways to share your expertise, promote your brand and spotlight your thoughts. Subject matter experts who are passionate about their messaging can elevate their authority and influence by sharing their knowledge on social media or through content marketing. Finding ways to reach your target audience to showcase your authority can help cement your standing as a thought leader.
CEOs who establish themselves as thought leaders have the opportunity to publicly elevate their company’s stance on issues on their own terms. This matters as consumers and companies search for organizations that align with their own positions. Businesses and consumers today want more than just a good deal on a product or service. They want to share values with the provider and support the same issues.
Social media is a communication tool business leaders cannot afford to overlook. CEOs can use this platform to share thoughts and beliefs on a range of issues that consumers have taken to heart.
Authority And Credibility Equal Trust
Communicating with members of your target audience lends credibility and authenticity, another reason why thought leadership matters. The combination results in the kind of trust money just can’t buy.
Thought leadership is important because it provides a means to share best practices, discuss learning curves and talk about successes and failures. It also helps companies stay attuned to their customers’ needs by opening the lines of communication, an essential element to staying in business.
Becoming a recognized thought leader improves prestige and elevates a CEO’s profile if it is incorporated into a marketing strategy. Thought leadership establishes credibility through authority: Experts in their field become the go-to people who dispense advice or guidance to others in the field.
Apple founder Steve Jobs often said, “you always had to be a little different to buy an Apple computer.” This premise became the inspiration for Apple’s “Think Different” advertising campaign, which featured real “geniuses” whose “crazy” ideas helped changed the world of tech.
The Importance Of Being Relatable
Thought leaders should be relatable or their words will likely fall on deaf ears. Thought leaders who are convincing have an authenticity that attracts others to listen to what they say. A CEO who wants to be authoritative must embrace his or her followers and talk to them on their level in order to get their attention and hold it.
Here are four ways a CEO can be relatable:
1. Share your ideals. What do you stand for? By what values do you live? Being honest about your stance on issues lends automatic credibility. Customers will either agree or disagree with your position, but they will know who you are and what you stand for, which is appealing.
2. Embrace your strengths. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be honest about them. Be ready to add value from your place of strength and seek out help for your weaknesses. Acknowledging your humanity lets you accept others’ shortcomings.
3. Appreciate others. Effective thought leaders must be able to attach worth to others’ world views and find value in alternate perspectives. Being relatable means appreciating everyone for their own intrinsic values.
4. Help others. Add value by showing kindness, generosity and encouragement to others. Effective leaders must be connected with their audiences and exhibit genuine concern, or their words will never have credibility.
Creating A Platform
Company leaders who want to share their expertise, insight and perspective need the proper venue to get their message out to the right people at the right time. CEOs need to identify their target audiences and then determine which platform will deliver the best result.
Bylined articles, op-eds, blogs, newsletters and social media are all ways to establish thought leadership. However, attaining credibility in a specific area takes time, patience and a calculated effort to garner media coverage.
Becoming a go-to source for the press on a particular subject is a sure-fire way to establish thought leadership, but it’s not an easy task to accomplish.
Relatable people who possess subject matter expertise combined with a unique perspective that sets them apart from others have the makings of a thought leader. Having something different and insightful to say will garner publicity for your business or organization and help establish you as a trailblazer.
Here are six benefits of thought leadership:
Builds your brand
Qualifies you as a reliable source
Allows you to influence others
Establishes you as an expert who can offer guidance
Paints you as a forward thinker
Business leaders who elevate their level of expertise to thought leadership can make a difference by providing unique and credible perspectives that can influence others and effect change.