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Turn Yourself Into A Sought-After Thought Leader

Want to be a thought leader in your field? Just having an insightful message isn't enough. You also need to get that message out.

Tapping tools that spread your ideas is the way to position yourself as the go-to person on your topic of expertise. Social media can help raise your profile in ways that didn't exist in the pre-internet world. But you still need to communicate a powerful message.

Remember, though, that most people don't become thought leaders by accident. You need to follow a proven system to pull it off.

Stay True And Persistent To Become A Thought Leader

When building your reputation as a thought leader, be authentic, says Don McGuire. He's the chief marketing officer of Qualcomm, the global semiconductor giant.

"You need to be clear and consistent with your message, thoroughly understand who the audience is you're targeting and how best to reach them," he said. Qualcomm is often tapped for its insights on semiconductor technology.

Consistency is vital, McGuire reiterates. "No one person becomes a thought leader overnight, but if you're strategic with your messaging and your approach, you can work towards increasing your share of voice."

Employ 360-Degree Story-Telling To Become A Thought Leader

Do you have a powerful idea or unique point of view? Don't just serve it up to the world in a tweet, Todd Aydelotte says. "Rather, plan an integrated campaign to drive it to the masses."

Aydelotte is managing director of thought leadership for Allison+Partners, a marketing consultancy.

Try sharing your vision as a byline for a major media outlet, he says. And then drive that story out to all of your stakeholders across numerous social channels. Or take things further by offering your idea up as a speech at a major conference — and then support it with a written byline that same day. Get your message everywhere, spreading it, in his words, 360 degrees.

"Utilize social chatter and desk-side press interviews," Aydelotte said. "Everything integrated, and 360 degrees."

Seek Out Forums To Become A Thought Leader

Joining a tech council has given Bob Lindner an "amazing opportunity to stay on top of what other tech leaders are talking about," he said.

Lindner is the co-founder of Veda, a provider of health care automation products and services. The tech council has also provided a forum for Lindner to "pressure-test new ideas about how to approach tech problems with a group of peer thought leaders.

Lindner highly recommends "finding skill or industry-specific membership organizations."

Take Baby Steps To Become A Thought Leader

If you're taking your first step on the road to being a thought leader, tap your colleagues. They can be an initial audience to develop the pillars of your platform, Lindner says.

"When I'm developing a new topic, I gather a group of my colleagues and talk it through with them before formalizing my (point of view) in writing and making it public," he said.

Lead From Inside And Outside The Box

Thought leaders typically comment on issues and trends in their industry. But visible and effective leaders are not afraid to comment on important developments in society and culture, Aydelotte says.

"Employees at top businesses and institutions around the world expect their leaders to be visible, and they want to see how they feel on important issues," he said.

That said, utilize your inner circle to filter your thoughts so your message is clear and doesn't stir up unwanted controversy. You're looking to stoke productive dialogue.

Embrace Your Heritage And Celebrate It As A Differentiator

To stand out from the crowd and make your message resonate, tap into your roots and the unique aspects of your identity, says Jacqueline Woods, chief marketing officer at Teradata, a cloud data analytics company.

This applies to you personally and for your company.

When Teradata launched a new cloud-based product recently that enabled the company to compete head-to-head with newer, cloud-native companies, they embraced their history as a mature tech company.

"Instead of shying away from our legacy brand, we nodded to our heritage," she said. "We leveraged the best of it for our new product.

"Showcasing your authentic self when building your personal profile can help you stand out and bring unique value as a thought leader," Woods said.

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