We live in an age of overwhelming information. The world is full of people supplying it and others who are seeking it. People everywhere are desperate for solutions and fresh insight. Those people who are able to provide them with the strongest, freshest, most relevant, and even most radical ideas, practically hold the keys to success. The individuals with this level of influence are the thought leaders.
If you are seeking to be more influential in your industry, the good news is that you don’t have to be born a thought leader—you can become one. So how do YOU rise above the noise and reach that level of influence?
In order to propel yourself forward as a thought leader, you NEED to follow these three steps:
Step 1 – Define Your Mission
Like a soldier in battle, your mission is THE ONE THING that you are responsible for fulfilling at all costs. To be a thought leader, you must have focus on what your goal is—where you are making your thought influence and where you are leading people.
Defining your mission does three things:
- It declares to yourself what you are doing and how you are doing it so that you can move forward confidently. It provides a target to help you be as focused and effective as possible. It channels all your effort and creates a positive flow of creative energy.
- A mission helps guarantee success by removing distraction. A thought leader knows that if anything distracts them from their stated mission they will lose their effectiveness as an influencer. A mission helps them objectively judge if something is helpful or not toward achieving that goal of dominant influence in a particular area.
- Missions that are well-defined let your followers easily place their trust in you. When somebody doesn’t know what they are doing or where they are leading people, they lose credibility. No one wants to follow someone who appears to be going nowhere.
As an example, to someone who might want to be a thought leader in the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), they might define a mission similar to this: “My mission is to help people understand the value of SEO to their organizations and provide a clear roadmap for implementing it effectively.”
Such a statement will focus you the influencer and allow your followers to easily buy into your leadership.
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar
Step 2 – Determine Your Message
If your mission is how you are focused on helping people, your message is what you are going to tell them to get their attention.
Your message will consist of the following:
- It includes your one core premise, or thesis; the singular idea that you believe everyone needs to know. This becomes your rallying cry.
- A powerful message will include your personal story so people can see that you are credible to speak on the subject as well as to be empathetic to their concerns. It lets people know that you understand their struggle as well as have a solution for them. Your message helps you be relatable.
- Your message should ideally be thought-provoking to bring about an entirely new perspective as well as include a sense of urgency that reveals the consequences for continuing in the same old patterns of looking at things.
Your message is your gospel of hope and personal testimony that it works. With it, you awaken people to their need or confirm to them that you understand and are the best person to help them through their struggle and find salvation.
The SEO thought leader might have a message something like this: “SEO is constantly changing and every organization must embrace an aggressive stance for it or succumb to those organizations who will. I have the keys to help you effectively implement the SEO plan you need to be successful.”
They would then follow by sharing their personal story of how they came to be so convicted regarding this stance and how they implemented it with great success.
“I have a message to give to the world, and I shall not be thwarted.” – Elizabeth Kenny
Step 3 – Develop Your Method
Your method is the structured system that you use to help your people understand and implement your message. Your method doesn’t have to be long or complex—the strongest methods are simple and easily memorable. An ideal method will have three to seven action points to follow.
Our SEO thought leader’s method will follow a very simple format such as,“Step One—Define your target audience’s greatest needs, Step Two—Create an SEO plan around the keywords they search for,etc.”
Until they’ve covered all of the steps necessary to realize the solution to their follower’s problems, each step is where their level of expertise will shine through with great insight backed by compelling evidence.
Although this format might sound overly-simplified, there aren’t a lot of influential thought leaders out there precisely because most people can’t distill a plan down to this degree and bring the amount of clarity necessary for it to be effective.
Great thought leaders overlay their action points by taking their thought-followers on a journey that looks very similar to this:
- Open their eyes to see how things have always been,
- Show them what that has got them,
- Reveal and prove that there is another way to think about that area (your way), and
- Show them how powerful the new way can be.
Who are your favorite thought leaders? Please comment below!
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By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make
Are you completely new to networking?
Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.
It’s incredibly common for nerves to creep in and to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when it comes to networking – even when it isn’t new to you. But how can you become more successful at it, feel less self-conscious, and make networking work for you and your business?
Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.
Rock up with confidence
If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.
Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!
Where to go networking
If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.
For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!
If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.
Get more leads and referrals
This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.
Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.
When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!
Grow your business
By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make, and you will be able to grow your business.
We know that it’s not easy, going networking for the very first time. And that’s why we want to give you all the advice and tools that you need so you can walk in with confidence and make the most of the opportunity.
2023 is just around the corner, and you have the chance to make it the year you make networking work for your business. And the benefits could be incredibly amazing for your business, just like they have been for ours, and many business owners we have worked with over the years.
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