Being identified as a thought leader can significantly impact a business owner’s capacity to reach a broad audience of prospects. It builds trust and ultimately leads prospects toward the sales funnel.

 

“But my business is boring.” This is a common response among business owners when encouraged to create content about their industries. Every industry, glamorous or not, is interesting in some way. The trick is to discover the information people search for most about the industry, and then create a platform on which to share that information.

 

Blogger Graphic

Establish your target audience, and become a thought leader in your field.

Blogging

Blogs are one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to develop thought leadership. For small business owners, it’s a perfect way to share expertise on topics related to the industry in which the business is located. Setting up a business blog is as simple as creating a free WordPress account. It takes time to attract fans and develop a following, but if done right, blogs are an invaluable tool for building influence.

 

 

Guest Posting

Target blogs that cover topics related to your industry, and pitch the editor about writing a guest post for the blog. Some blogs advertise that they’re looking for guest posts, but others may not. Don’t waste an editor or blogger’s time by pitching them without doing your homework. Research the blog, and look for submission guidelines. If they’re openly asking for submissions, then by all means pitch. If they explicitly state that they don’t allow guest posts, then move on.

 

Newspaper headlines picture

Op-eds and letters to the editor are a great way to get your name in print.

Letters to the Editor & Op-Eds

More along the lines of traditional public relations, letters to the editor and op-eds are an opportunity to offer your expertise in both print and digital publications. For example, if you disagree with something you’ve read in a publication, you can write a letter to the editor to provide your own take on the subject. Op-eds are longer and more informative than letters to the editor, but they’re similar in that they’re an outlet to provide expertise to local publics.

 

People Using Social Media Image

Share and curate valuable content, but don’t over-promote yourself.

Social Media

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make on social media is over-promoting. “Well, isn’t that what it’s for — self-promotion?” No. Believe it or not, people don’t log on to Twitter or Facebook to hear about your amazing products and services. Whether they know it or not, they log on to social media to read and share stories. You should absolutely promote yourself and your content, but you must do it a way that provides value to your fans and followers. “Check out my new blog post” is self-promotion, but “4 ways to become a better boss” is value. You’ll also need to share content created by other influencers. Doing so cuts back on self-promotion and leads your prospects to valuable resources of information.

 

There’s a multitude of ways to develop thought leadership and become a trusted, authoritative source of information. It takes time and dedication, but the payoff is well worth it.

 

What are you doing to develop thought leadership in your industry? Leave your insights in the comments section, or tweet me @nataliepetitto.