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How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry

By Brian Farris   |    July 2, 2020   |    11:47 AM

The Benefits of Thought Leadership (And Why You Should Add It To Your Content Marketing Mix)

Thought leadership is a popular marketing buzzword, but what does it mean exactly? 

This explanation sums the concept up perfectly, defining thought leadership as  “a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic.”

In other words, professionals who create thought leadership content establish themselves as experts in their industry or niche. That’s not the only benefit, either. 

From publishing articles to giving interviews in trade magazines and more, here's how to use your expertise to become a trusted leader in your industry (and why you should consider doing these things in the first place).

The benefits of becoming a thought leader

As a busy small business owner or entrepreneur, your plate is likely full. However, there are some big benefits to thought leadership that shouldn’t be overlooked. Thought leadership:

  • Demonstrates credibility. 
  • Puts you on the radar of other professionals, which can lead to new opportunities.
  • Helps your brand establish trust.
  • Differentiates your company from the competition.

Share your insights (the easier way)

There’s no way around it, creating thought leadership content is time-consuming. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to get started and establish credibility: give interviews.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a useful tool that connects journalists to experts. Simply sign up as a source on the website and review the daily pitches to see if there’s a fit.

If you don’t have time to review the source requests each day, just delegate the task to your virtual assistant. They can send pitches to relevant opportunities on your behalf and schedule any interviews. All you need to do is share what you know.

Publish content on a platform you already use

Last week on the Intelligent Office blog, I shared some actionable insights that entrepreneurs, small business owners and other professionals can use to write an effective LinkedIn profile (if you missed it, be sure to read it here).

One of those tips emphasized the importance of being active on LinkedIn, and writing articles on topics that you have a deep wealth of knowledge in is the perfect way to be an active member. 

If you aren’t sure what to write about, here’s how to get started:

  • Read articles that other people in your network and industry have shared. What topics are they writing? Do you have anything to add? You can even write a (tactful) counterargument, which can generate discussion and engagement.
  • Think about the most frequently asked questions that you receive from colleagues and customers. Publish an article answering those questions.
  • Write an article about industry trends and predictions and use research to back up your opinions.

No matter what you share, remember that your goal should be to provide value for the reader. Thought leadership isn’t about self-promotion, it’s about being a valuable resource to your audience.

Then, expand your reach with other mediums and platforms

LinkedIn isn’t the only place where you can demonstrate your expertise, so don’t be afraid to expand your reach. You could:

  • Publish blog articles on your company’s website (check out this article for some helpful inspiration: 10 Engaging Blog Topic Ideas for Your Small Business’s Website).
  • Learn which publications your target audience reads and submit content for consideration. These could include popular websites, blogs and trade magazines. Be sure to search for submission guidelines first, because many publications have specific requirements.
  • Host a webinar or seek out opportunities to be a webinar guest.
  • Start a podcast (or reach out to existing podcasts that might be a good fit).
  • Submit proposals to speak at industry conferences and events. 

With so many ways to establish yourself as a thought leader, don’t hesitate to try different things. Sooner or later, you’ll land on a strategy that works for you and your goals.

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