June 30, 2021

Who is a Thought Leader?

Who is a Thought Leader?

The title Thought Leader sounds great on a profile but is it something that can be just added to one's profile? There seems to be a confusion as to who is a thought leader and who can be a thought leader. 
In this episode, Surbhi solves this confusion and also shares her 8-P model of building one's thought leadership. Is thought leadership gained by content? Is thought leadership only for those executives working in famous brands? Is thought leadership only for those from the Ivy league schools? Listen in to find out and get a full dose of clarification.


Thought leader, the title sounds nice. Huh? It showcases that to a considerable number of people. You are a respected subject matter expert whose opinions concerning the industry, where you belong are backed by deep wisdom and experience. It's a moniker that you earn by having both wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of your feelings, and a willingness to share what you know, with the rest of the community. Welcome to today's episode of the making of a thought leader podcast. I'm your host Surbhi Dedhia and we are taking a deep dive on who can become a thought leader along with the AP method to systematically build one's expertise that I have designed and lots more. It is a wonderful thing to be regarded as a thought leader, a thought leader commands a certain amount of respect, the power to shape opinions, influence decisions, and compel his or her followers to act ideally towards the greater good or a favorable outcome.


Warren Buffett, Seth Godin, Mary Smith, and so many others like them are very well-regarded in their respective fields and are seen as a go-to experts for questions pertaining to their areas of expertise. So who can become a thought leader. It could be anyone and yet not everyone may have all the right ingredients in place to become one, to become a thought leader. You do not need to be an executive in a big company, or be a graduate from an Ivy league school. In my opinion, if you are able to offer deep answers to your audience's biggest questions in the format that your audience enjoys consuming it, you're already fulfilling the role of a thought leader. A thought leader needs to have unique perspective and in depth, understanding of the subject matter and a point of view, your audience is not always looking for answers that are massively differentiated. They are looking for what you, as a unique person thinks. Consumption of the content is also different for everybody at different times.


So I believe you're answering a question, sharing an opinion to look at various formats and platforms that you can share it on with relevance. In a nutshell, a thought leader possesses, five characteristics, he or she is a credible source of information. He or she is a respected authority figure has the power to challenge and even change opinions, fosters and nurture relationships and attracts loyal followers and consequentially generate leads and branding of thought. Leadership involves talking with the right messaging and sufficient skill in communicating a person with valuable insensitive opinions to share can groom himself or herself to become a trusted thought leader. And of course the easiest avenue to reach as many potential followers or access your community is through social media, the role of social media and how to use it to build one thought leadership needs separate episodes altogether because social media in itself is a vast landscape.


So I think to become a thought leader, there are two golden rules to summarize. One is consistency, which means that you are sharing content regularly, This in turn shows that you're always there for your audience when they need you. And secondly, you do, you're doing it authentically, which in return builds trust with your audience over time. The formula is right content at the right time to the right audience, consistently and authentically. I've had the privilege to interact with business owners and executives through my work. And when I see that they have wealth of experience and knowledge to share. And in fact, in their roles and influence the community, I often end up persuading them to start creating the engagement, sharing their wealth with audiences and activating their fan business. Over the years, I've observed several entrepreneurs grow their followers while engaging with their audience in a systematic way, knowingly or unknowingly, but they have certain steps that they have taken.


And from my observations and seeing on what has worked and not worked for them, I have designed a simple model called the eight P model of thought leadership. Let me share that with you very briefly today, just like the four piece of classic marketing, the eight Ps model of thought leadership has P, but different ones. The first P is the purpose. Write down why you would like to embark on a long-term thought leadership, development and marketing. We always start with the why and like Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why says, “people don't buy what you do, but they buy why you do it.” For example, the purpose of marketing of a thought leader podcast is to inspire and encourage, entrepreneurs to build their thought leadership in a systematic way and thrive. So write down your goal is it to get promoted? Is it to change careers?


Is it to raise funds or boost brand awareness for the company or something else? The next P is people who is it that you are bringing this value to writing down the target audience or the drawing a persona will be as helpful as that brings mental clarity on who you are serving and who you are not. This is crucial as when you're building thought leadership, you want to be really clear about who do you serve. Much like businesses, who is their ideal customer. Remember a thought leader is not a thought leader without followers. So we are not talking about the self-proclaimed thought leaders here. The next P is the packaging. When we look at what exactly are we going to do while building the thought leadership, which topic in your expertise area, what are you most comfortable to share? And further segmenting it down to what the audience can consume easily and how and where you're going to share it.


People often love personal stories, which allows them to relate to your journey, challenges, successes, versus just hearing about a product or a feature or functions. Your personal stories could be about why you launched the company or how your personal experience has shaped your current role. And how are you impacting your company? The next P, which is the fourth P is a position. Positioning is really a critical step, which is often overlooked. It is the step where you will look at what differentiates you, then the others in your domain and how you can build a differentiation in your communication around what you want to say. What is your brand narrative here that will engage your audience and make you stand out because of your unique story. The next P is the publishing part publish. Now that you have, you know, who, why are you doing this?


You know who your audience is, you know, you, how you're going to position it. You need to publish. This is where you'll choose the communication channels, the kind of engagement that you want with your audience, the type of engagement, where you will be communicating clearly. You don't want to be available in all the channels just yet when you are starting, but it is a best practice to start with a channel where most of your audience is. Now that you know how you want to be perceived and have an narrative, think about how you're going to leverage the digital tools to share tips, tricks, and best practices. Perhaps there is a new research in your industry that you want to pick up and look at what changes in what trends are being observed and have an opinion about it, leverage that and use your know-how to add insight to the report, provide value and share your experience. Don't just sell a product or a service. The sixth, P is partner. I believe this is an age of collaboration and it is a way to grow. So look about partnering with colleagues, partnering with peers in your industry, thought leaders that you follow, all those who inspire you. If they're complimenting thought leaders who are in your industry, go ahead, join hands with them to convey our messages.


And this P has become even more prominent during the pandemic and beyond because now people are much open to communicate to partner and to collaborate. So this is something that as a thought leader, as an expert, you may want to look at it in depth. The seventh P is promoting. Now here's where the marketing comes to play the strategy piece, promoting your content via digital marketing is, where we are going to talk a lot more on this podcast as well, share your content in the channel of your choice, as well as sharing the content around in the platforms, which will help our audience take note of you Also think about besides sharing the content, how are you adding value in the right context? Are you giving some resources? Are you sharing what you do? The apps that make you productive, which can help promote you as a person, as an individual, more, better and holistically rather than just your content, the 8th P, which is not, which is the last, but not the least is proof..


Getting feedback from audiences is the first step of proof that will help you build your thought leadership in the right direction. So once again, just to summarize the eight piece of purpose people, package, position, publish, partner proof, and promote.  Thought leadership is not something that you create overnight. It takes a lot more than one blog, post one social post or networking event to cement yourself as a trusted figure in any field. Expertise, insight, and a valuable perspective are elements that lead to thought leadership status. You must build your experience and cultivate credibility over the long-term. And this is a given. We know that gaining experience takes time, patience and hard work. One area that the experts must focus on is the ability to listen from the audience and learn from others. When expertise is combined with humility and honesty, it brings out the human aspect of leading people. And I think that is precious.


Working systematically helps to build a solid foundation towards building thought leadership and sustain it for a long period of time. And with that, I invite you my listeners to introspect and reflect today on a special area in your career or personal life that you are very interested about and have experience in. Niche, the broad topic down to a point where, you know, you can talk about it for long confidently. And then you write down the reasons why you would like to share your thoughts on a short listed topic or on the top three topics that you've short listed. Remember that riches are in the niches. And it will take certainly sometime to help you stay focused, but hey, once you get on the road, I think the 8P model will really help you sustain it. So let's get you started on your journey to build your thought leadership and make you a thought leader of choice in your industry. That brings us to the end of this episode. I hope you found value in what I had to say about building your own thought leadership and who can be a thought leader. If you haven't subscribed to my podcast yet, remember to do so today on your favorite podcast player, or look up podcast.digital genie.co, and I will meet you in the next episode. Bye for now!