Reputation is everything. In today’s interconnected and information overloaded world, it’s vital to professional success to not only be an expert but to brand yourself as a thought leader in your chosen field. Creating a reputable personal brand takes more than a few tweets. You need to actively engage in industry discussions – not in a promotional way, but in a manner that adds value across multiple platforms. Becoming a reputable thought leader isn’t a quick process, but diligence and engagement can get you there.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Listen to What Others Are Saying
One of the best ways to have something worthwhile to say is to listen to what others in your industry are talking about and form your own opinion on the matter. It won’t always be different, innovative or meaningful, but when you come up with a new perspective on the situation or even an interesting way of digesting and implementing known information, it’ll be worth sharing and worth listening to.
Don’t be afraid to take the position of contrarian or devil’s advocate, as long as you can back up what you’re saying. Innovators always seem crazy until their way of thinking becomes the norm.
Another great tactic is thinking about the challenges the industry is facing and sharing how you are personally overcoming them, even if your approach isn’t 100 percent right just yet. People are looking for a solution to their problems. If you can share your successes and failures and give peers a new approach to think about, you’re automatically setting yourself up to have a loyal following.
Every time you’re at a speaking engagement or networking event, make mental notes of the topics and questions that come up. Forming and sharing well thought out answers to trending industry discussions is what being a thought leader is all about.
“How do you become a thought leader? It starts with BEING a thought leader and then connecting the dots back to you.” – Brian Solis
2. Publish Yourself
Personal-professional blogs are great, but unless you’re a recognized name in the industry, it can be hard to get people to spend precious time on an unproven blog. Keep up your blog if you have one, but take advantage of the fact that LinkedIn opened published posts to everyone.
LinkedIn is the top social business platform and users are typically there to see business-related news, updates and posts. This is a focused, captive audience to start building a following among. Sharing relevant articles that you find interesting is a good way to balance your self-publication.
If you only ever promote your own content you’ll lose credibility. Thought leadership is as much about sharing ideas as it is about coming up with them on your own. Keep your posts (whether on LinkedIn or anywhere else) on topic and in line with your industry. If you deviate too much you’ll lose attention and damage your broader reputation as a focused, interesting thought leader.
3. Get Published
Take the next step in online publications and apply to be a contributor to a popular industry or business news site. If your industry is still heavily print-based, look into submitting an article or opinion piece to industry magazines.
Getting professionally published isn’t as hard as you might think. Many contributor-based websites either have an application form to be an approved writer or guidelines alongside an article submission form for a DIY approach.
When one of your pieces is published, share it to your social networks for extra reach. Keep an eye on the social share counters many media sites have on articles so you can tell which topics, formats and headlines resonate most with readers.
4. Start Speaking
Start sharing your thoughts in person by reaching out to regional groups about potential speaking opportunities. Regional professional groups, industry organizations, even the chamber of commerce will get you used to sharing your ideas with a live audience and help you network while you confidently position yourself as a thought leader and area expert. Even speaking with local student groups is a good way to spread your influence.
Apply to be a local TEDx speaker. These events are typically well attended by curious people who are eager to share what they’ve learned and tweet about your talk. If you’re scheduled to appear, let your local colleagues know you’ll be speaking so they can help spread the word and attend themselves.
As your name gets better known, set your sights on industry conferences. Annual conferences are beacons of excitement and knowledge in any industry – a chance to hear from top personals and sit in on workshops and panels that will provide valuable takeaways. Get in on the action by applying to be a panel member or moderate a discussion. Once your name starts rising to the top of the industry, you may even find yourself becoming a sought-after keynote speaker.
Formal publication and speaking are important factors of becoming a top thought leader, but simply getting out there and sharing your ideas with others in your field is just as helpful. Go to meet-ups, happy hours, anywhere really that people are gathering and sharing ideas. The entire purpose of professional networking is to meet people, make impressions and share ideas. So get out there and make your name the one everyone knows before they even shake your hand.
Whenever you’re at a conference or large industry event make mental notes for follow up articles and live tweet nuggets of insight from the event (be sure to drop in a thought or two of your own). Using the conference hashtag can gain you a lot of followers.
“Part of the role of a thought leader is not to necessarily have all the answers but it’s to be able to ask the right questions and the privilege of being able to lead the conversation.” – Michael Hyatt
6. Make it Memorable
No matter where you’re writing or speaking, if what you’re saying isn’t noteworthy and memorable it’s not going to be talked about, shared or give you a reputation as a true innovative thought leader. If people aren’t taking notes or tweeting, you’re doing it wrong.
Make sure what you’re saying is different enough that people want to stop and listen. To be a thought leader in a particular industry, you have to impress other experts in your industry – meaning you have to know what you’re talking about. Parroting the same tired information, techniques, pointers and thoughts won’t make you stand out or help your personal brand. Including an easily shareable (meaning under 140 characters) sound bite in your articles or speeches will help capture attention and spread your thoughts.
7. Be Patient and Persistent
If being a thought leader were easy, every working and retired professional would be on an equal playing field. To ensure you stay on top, take your time, think about the information and thoughts you’re putting out there and make sure they align with the personal brand you’re trying to build. If you share and produce enough thought-provoking and insightful information, your reputation will begin to climb.
What are some things you do to help become an industry expert? Comment below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
What if Elon Musk Ran Your Business? 4 Lessons From the Real Life Iron Man
The story of Iron man and Elon Musk starts when Robert Downey Jr. visited SpaceX headquarters miles away from the setting of the first Iron Man movie back in 2007. The actor was inspired to base his character on Elon Musk’s personality. Ashlee Vance writes in Elon’s biography “both Musk and Stark were the type of men, according to Downey, who ‘had seized an idea to live by and something to dedicate themselves to’ and were not going to waste a moment.” (more…)
5 Ways to Prepare for Your Entrepreneurial Journey
There are many ways to get ready for entrepreneurship regardless of whether you’re ready or not. The migration to the unknown will take you through many places, emotions, and people. Your journey will be both easy and difficult, but hopefully in between, you prepare yourself with an expectation of helping people by solving problems. The quest that you are about to enter will be one to remember if you are willing to adapt quickly and not give up.
Arranging for this huge change in your life should be one of the most memorable expeditions that you will ever experience. Looking into the future and being able to lay out a road map for your entrepreneurial journey will definitely be beneficial. Though there will be challenges every step of the way, being prepared will help you achieve your goals more efficiently.
To help you get started, here are 5 ways to plan an entrepreneurial expedition:
1. Form Ideas By Visualizing And Writing Them Down
Before beginning your entrepreneurial quest, brainstorm to come up with many amazing ideas even if you never act upon each of them. It’s always a good thing to write them down on paper, computer or via a mobile device app such as Google Docs. An abundance of suggestions about your processes is better than none or even a few objectives that can possibly help in some way.
The key is to breakdown those ideas to come up with better solutions to move forward in your voyage. See what’s more in line with your mission and values to be effective for your core audience, products or services that you may want to create. Whether you categorize those ideas or check them off one by one, coming up with different concepts will be a great start to your journey.
“Creativity is contagious – pass it on.” – Albert Einstein
2. Begin A Pattern Of Consistency By Quitting Bad Habits
Repetitive actions can present their challenges but if there’s a way to make progress and eliminate bad habits that aren’t hindering your itinerary then keep doing them. Have you ever noticed that negative thoughts, lack of confidence, and no exercise regimen could negate persistence of not only your entrepreneurial journey but other goals as well?
Get your mojo or swagger back by committing to a life of constant and everlasting consistency by stopping eating bad foods, wasting your time with hours of playing video games, watching television and other things that will stall your progress. When you get rid of actions that are slowing down aspects of your life, you’ll begin to pursuing things to help you lay the groundwork for success.
3. Be Disciplined While Listening More
Another way to prepare for your entrepreneurial journey is by being in control of yourself while paying more attention to everything else. It’s quite common to focus on things outside of your realm and instantly become something other than what you see fit. Difficulties can arise if your focal point isn’t there and somehow an opportunity pass right by you.
Mentorship even from a distance from someone that you don’t know can be a key element as you learn the importance of your mission. Listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos of someone that has validated your idea is a great starting point as well. Mimicking them on some level can help you understand different phases that are ahead and how to deal with them.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
4. Work Effortlessly And Prioritize Your Time
You will have to work extremely hard with an emphasis on actual time value before pursuing your pilgrimage. We often hear about the results of hard work and it sounds cliche but when many other things are happening outside of your control, finding a way to manage your time can become difficult.
Most people will start off alone with zero help in terms of having a partner and putting in 100% effort. You will likely wear multiple hats as the visionary, programmer, marketer, content creator and so on. You may have to function with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep or even none at times while being respectful and cognitive of the time of others as well.
5. Persist Like There’s No Tomorrow While Planning For The Future
What’s in you? Nobody knows the answer to that question but you and the determination for reaching your destination as an entrepreneur. Whatever the answer is, you should be driven with an undaunted passion to pursue your expedition. Go after your dreams with a tenacity that you didn’t know was within your soul and keep pushing no matter what.
Be mindful that your strong pursuit can be done all while determining the proper destination of where you want to eventually end up. Never lose your focus admist numerous distractions that will happen. The emphasis comes from experience along with talking to other entrepreneurs who had similar occurrences at multiple stages of the process.
Put in the work early with the mindset of expecting obstacles and pushing forward pass them. It will be tedious and preparing for a grind will make your entrepreneurial journey more understandable through tough times. You will be a lot wiser and better after all of the hard work whether it’s considered a failure or success.
Which one of the above 5 ways to prepare for your entrepreneurial journey resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!
7 Things You Need to Do to Grow as an Entrepreneur
Startups are on the rise and youngsters are keen to launch their own business instead of a nine-to-five job. As simple as it sounds, opening a business needs patience and the right planning. Moreover, the profits gained can help you meet your financial obligations and realize other dreams.
Young entrepreneurs must learn the skills of investing money within the right channels as most startups fail because of a shortage of funds. Every entrepreneur has a chance to innovate, create new jobs and have an influence on society. It’s our responsibility to continually grow and push forward, usually beyond our comfort zones.
Here are the seven must-learn tips to grow as an entrepreneur:
1. Read Books and Articles
For many new entrepreneurs, your first mentors are usually found in the pages of books and blogs. Much often learned from the writings of others, and fortunately these days, people are sharing their experiences. A survey found that 88% of the world’s wealthiest people read for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. By comparison, only 2% of the overall population reads this much daily.
Read chapters in books, and articles to get new ideas and skills. Some ideas might not be directly relevant to what you’re doing these days however, it could come helpful a year or so down the road.
My advice is to search out those leaders and writers who resonate with you. You’ll understand when you’ve hit on something when you find yourself returning to a book for answers and inspiration time and time again.
“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato
2. Perform SWOT Analysis
Business students and old-school marketers should be very aware of mapping out SWOT Analysis charts (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). If you’ve never made a SWOT chart, write out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in four quadrants on a piece of paper.
In reality, you’ll jot down a couple of notes on the back of a cocktail napkin, however despite the simplicity, if done right, a SWOT will shed light on crucial areas that require improvement. Most significantly, don’t shy away from the truth. Dissecting your weaknesses isn’t fun however, no good comes from avoiding the fact.
3. Be Willing to Take Risks
It’s impossible to become an entrepreneur if you don’t take risks. Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve fallen. See how many times you stand-up. Being an Entrepreneur isn’t that easy; it’s an up-and-down game like a business. Be willing to come up with new plans even when old strategies are working. It’s through such risks that your business will grow. You’ll learn and meet new partners or investors. Even so, the risks must be calculated. Doing the analysis and making consultations is vital in this case.
4. Open Your Eyes Wide
Many opportunities are arising in the business world every day. For instance, many companies are willing to come up with a mobile solution for a startup without charging immoderate prices. This info can only be discovered if you’re keen.
Before dismissing adverts from websites and mainstream media, conclude if they’re relevant to your business. Also, follow the events happening in the stock market and international business summits. You’ll find the opportunities which will take your business to a new level.
Becoming successful as an entrepreneur is possible if you learn, take risks, evolve, innovate, and stay motivated. You must be realistic regarding your abilities and watch the events that unfold in your world.
5. Lead the Way for Your Team
Young entrepreneurs need to encourage employees and provide help at every juncture. For any young entrepreneur who aspires to be a leader it’s necessary to be:
- Courage and Risk Taking
- A Team-player
- An effective listener
- An effective communicator
- Able to inspire confidence
An entrepreneur who has all the attributes of a leader leads the employees to productivity. It’s essential that the team respects a leader. The hunger and aspirations of the leader to strive for success inspire the employees to put in that extra effort to be successful.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
6. Learn How to Keep Initial Success at Bay
Do not enjoy the shrubs of initial success for too long. Return to the drawing board and draw the future course of action. To move on to the next phase:
- Utilize local and online channels to make hype for the services
- Start expanding by hiring employees to enhance productivity
- Cater to a good segment of the audience by providing various services
- Re-invest the profitable revenue into new business efforts
Never let the initial success get to your head. The online platform is an ever-changing arena. Analyze what’s working and what new tactics can be utilized to strengthen the market base.
7. Find and Keep Business Partners
You will always go far if you have people to carry your hand during hardship in business. They’ll share ideas that have made them successful and provides you funds whenever necessary. Demonstrating that you are organized, capable, and serious is vital when nurturing such relationships. Keeping records, creating financial contributions to society, and attending forums are some of the choices worth trying.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it looks. You’ll face many up-and-downs, risks, financial crisis, and many more. Be ready to face these problems if you want to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship isn’t about making money, it’s about innovating new things and represent new concepts and ideas to the world.
Transitioning From Employee to Entrepreneur? Try Intrapreneurship First
Studies show that 15 million Americans are self-employed full-time and that an estimated 27 million Americans will transition from the traditional workforce to full-time entrepreneurship by 2020. Additionally, it is asserted that entrepreneurs are 125% more successful if they have previously been employed in the industry in which they presently do business. This is all great news on many levels.
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are considering transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, or perhaps you have already made the shift. I get it. I am one of the millions who has made the switch – trading stability and comfort for passion and freedom. However, if you are a potential full-time entrepreneur, there are many things to consider before making the leap.
How will I support myself and my family in the initial stages of development? What do I do if I fail? How do I maintain the drive needed to make a business successful? How will my business harness the creativity and innovation required to thrive in the marketplace? These are all valid questions and should be considered deeply.
If only there were a training ground to test your management capabilities, gain knowledge, think innovatively and be solution-focused. But, wait, there is. Your current employment can offer these opportunities and more – through intrapreneurship.
By definition, an intrapreneur is an employee of a company who has adopted an entrepreneurial mindset. Intrapreneurs are highly motivated self-starters and innovative, solution-driven thought leaders, who work within an organization. Because of this definition, acting in an intrapreneurial capacity in your current place of employment makes a great deal of sense when considering the move to self-employment. You can use your current employment status as a testing ground for where you want to be.
Here are four reasons why intrapreneurship can work for you:
1. See a problem. Solve a problem
All businesses should be designed to fulfill a need. Just as your own business should be able to justify its existence in the marketplace, initiatives within an organization should do the same. Closely examine processes and products in your place of employment. Determine what could be executed more productively. Alternatively, design a new initiative to creatively meet and exceed customer expectations. Acting in this manner will prepare you for building the structure and mission of your own business.
2. Creatively capitalize on skills and talents gained outside your employer
In many instances, we separate business from personal, and there are many good reasons for this approach. However, there are notable skills and talents used in your personal life that are transferable to the workplace. For example, if you engage in team sports, use your team building skills and charisma to involve your colleagues in projects.
If you love to read fiction books, integrate the creativity of the stories to bend the thinking of traditional methods of operation. The possibilities are many. Business owners rely on all life experiences, directly or tangentially related, for the benefit of their enterprises.
3. Intrapreneurship is for all employment levels
If you think intrapreneurship is only for c-suite executives, think again. Intrapreneurship is for the mailroom to the boardroom. As noted in the definition, intrapreneurship is about being a self-starter. You do not need permission from anyone to be highly motivated. Just as all parts of our bodies have a function, so do all positions in an organization. Even if you feel your position has no purpose in your organization, make one. We all have to start somewhere in our entrepreneurial journeys, so start right now, where you are.
4. Experiencing failure is inevitable. Move forward anyway.
All of us will experience failure at some point and multiple times as well. Failure will happen regardless if you remain employed or set out on our own. Be bold enough to move forward with establishing your voice and your place anyway. Business and life are about forward movement. Decide now what next step you will take if you fail. There is always a path forward. Get used to the possibility of your ideas being rejected and your designs being flawed now, so when you are a full-time entrepreneur, you will know how to advance.
Whether you are at the infancy stages of developing your own business, currently self-employed or even wish to remain an employee, establishing yourself as an initiator and innovator can reap many benefits for you and your company. That is the beauty of it.
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