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Do you have what it takes to be a thought leader?

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Anna Heyes, director at Active Profile

If you’re an expert in your field of work, you can use that knowledge to raise your business profile, drive sales and grow your business.

Every industry has thought leaders. They’re the individuals talking at events, bringing new ideas to the table and pushing conversations forward into new territory. It’s easy to think that these people are brilliant minds on a higher plane to others and worthy of setting the agenda, but it’s rarely that simple.

Thought leaders are typically experts, yes, but they’re almost always chosen, briefed and coached. They are figureheads chosen by their communications team to raise the profile of their brand by talking about carefully selected, relevant topics.

The ability to offer fresh insight can be harnessed to grow audiences, sales and brands, so topics that are at the cutting-edge of an industry and are aligned to a company’s services are pinpointed, insights developed and talks fleshed out. In short, thought leaders are mostly made. You can be a thought leader.

There are a few things to consider when establishing who the thought leaders of a business should be. They should be able to see the ‘bigger picture’, speak confidently and explain complex subjects in layman’s terms. They also need credibility, which usually means the CEO and C-suite are best placed to fill the role, although senior employees with specialist knowledge can be used too.

It’s not all for the big business leaders either – journalists and event organisers in particular are always keen to hear from specialists in smaller organisations to get their take on wider business issues. Themes can be drawn from the national news agenda to ensure topicality, with ideas developed from expertise within the business to give new perspectives on them.

Much of the leg-work is done by the comms team – securing talk, panel or interview opportunities, identifying topics, building content, briefing and coaching the speaker – but it’s ultimately down to the thought leader to deliver. They need time to review the brief, rehearse their delivery and prepare for any additional talking points. Presentation and delivery are both key, so it’s crucial to be well prepared.

It’s important to enjoy the process too! If you know your stuff and you’re well prepared, there should be no reason to worry and talking confidently about a topic will come naturally. Expect questions and conflicting opinions, all of which make for an interesting and rewarding conversation. Finally, remember don’t worry about pushing your products or services – they’ll sell themselves.

The more thought leadership you do, the more you’ll get media coverage and the more in demand your opinions will become. Requests from bigger publications and events will follow. Exposure breeds exposure and you’ll be able to use that to build and shape your brand. Keep picking the right topics, talking to the right audiences and sharing your output through your organisation’s channels. It won’t be long before you find that it’s you who’s setting the agenda.

About the author

Anna Heyes is founder and award-winning managing director of Active Profile, a growth marketing and PR company. Over the last 14 years, Anna has advised a variety of organisations and leaders, helping to scale their growth and build brands in new and existing markets.

Contact: Anna Heyes, Managing Director, Active Profile

Web: www.activeprofile.co.uk | Email: info@activeprofile.co.uk
Phone: 0151 556 7050  | Twitter: @activeprofileuk

December 6th, 2018

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