What you need to be a thought leader
Thought leadership is made up of two concepts:
Thoughts consist of ideas that are generally different than what a given market is used to. You offer fourth a different perspective, twist or entirely new vision for the world than what we are accustomed to. At the very least, you take old ideas and jazz them up to look shiny and new. While this is less innovative, you wouldn't be the first (or last) to do so.
They key element here is that you have an opinion. You need to see things differently than your industry and be willing to share those thoughts with the rest of the world. The more people that hear about your views the better.
If the distance between your ideas and mainstream thinking is too close, you lose, because there is nothing spectacular about micro-differences unless they're incredibly profound. And if you're way too far ahead of the crowd, to the point that the thought is not relatable, then you have one hell of a sales job ahead of you.
The leading portion comes to a head when it's time to spearhead the very ideas you so adamantly defend. Go to battle for them, refine them, dance and toil with them until they become the foundation for all that you do.
Thought leadership is the key to sales and to do it well you need:
- An opinion and/or vision of the world that is unique and memorable
- An audience. People congregated in one form or another. This could be at an event, an email list or a Facebook group. Bring them together yourself or find others who already have them in a "room" together, digital or not, and get at it!
- A medium to share your ideas. This coud consist of a book, a webinar, an event, an article, etc. They key here is to have a way to share your idea with as many of the right people as possible.
Most people have the hardest time with #1 as it requires you to publicly disagree with mainstream thinking.
Keep in mind too that the essence of media (ideas and information) is one of disagreement. Media is the art of proving, disproving and reporting. That is how and why it exists.
If you're in media, you're in the business of having an opinion or of finding out the opinions of other, smarter people.
Hey, no one said it was easy.