Why You Should Become a Thought Leader—ASAP!

There’s no doubt about it: There is power in being a recognized industry thought leader. In the world of product management and marketing, that renown comes with increased opportunities for you personally and for your company’s brand and products. In a recent Pragmatic Institute webinar, Jim Semick, founder of ProductPlan product roadmap software, provided tips on why, as a product management or marketing professional, you should strive to become a thought leader. How Thought Leaders Deliver Win After Win As an employee, you might need to justify your desire to spend a little time on becoming an industry thought leader. Typically, the first question from management or owners is, “How will this benefit our company?” It’s simple, really. When you win, the brand wins. Through your efforts, you’ll be establishing and developing brand equity. If you are recognized as an industry expert, it’s acknowledged that you’re only going to associate yourself with the best products and companies, so your acclaim is intimately tied to that of the brand. When it comes to the brand and products that you represent, your deep industry knowledge will also create a strong competitive edge for your products. And that results in improved brand awareness to a broader audience, which ultimately leads to increased sales. You could probably just stop there, with sales, when explaining to your company executives why you are pursuing recognition as a thought leader. After all, money is a huge driving factor in our competitive marketplace. But there’s more. As a thought leader, you are continually learning and putting yourself (as well as, of course, your company) in front of more open doors. You’ll also have multiple opportunities to meet other industry experts, which can result in career advancement (but maybe don’t share that fact with your boss) and collaborative avenues. You will continue learning and growing personally, which will create a position of authority and lead to higher career satisfaction. And it really doesn’t take a lot of daily time investment to achieve the status of thought leader. What You Can Do NOW to Become a Thought Leader You might like to hear that you can put on the mantle of “thought leader” tomorrow, but the truth is that it will likely take a little time to work up to that level. Even if you’re extremely knowledgeable, you need to let everyone know how much of a forward thinker you are. Fortunately, the steps are all within your reach. Write You need to share your knowledge, and one of the best ways to do that is by writing. Thought leaders use authoritative, educational content marketing that is shared through blogs, white papers and social media. Write on the company website, Quora, Twitter and LinkedIn—wherever there are eyes. If you don’t feel confident in your knowledge, start instead with the next step. Read There is an abundance of information on the web and in industry publications that you should be devouring. Read analyst reports and see what other thought leaders are saying. Make this something you do daily. Attend Industry Conferences You are the sum of the people with whom you most often associate, so start surrounding yourself with the best. Go to trade shows, industry associations and conferences as often as work and your budget will allow. Meet Key People While you’re attending conferences, introduce yourself to the movers and shakers there and start to build those meetings into long-term relationships. Remember that saying hello is just the first step; you have to stay in touch to obtain results. If you aren’t able to attend conferences for whatever reason, use LinkedIn as an alternative way to develop relationships with key industry leaders. Get Going! You can’t move toward your goals until you take the first step, so jump in with both feet. Commit time, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, to doing something that will keep you going in the right direction. Be bold and confident when meeting new people or taking on controversial topics in your writings. Keep in mind that being a thought leader is about sharing and adding value. To be successful at this endeavor, you must focus on innovation, have empathy with your customers and maintain deep knowledge of not only your products and industry but what your customers are saying about them. When you put all of these things together, you will realize that you are likely already well on your way to being a recognized thought leader. Listen to the entire webinar and learn more about Jim’s approach at http://pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/How-Thought-Leadership-Can-Elevate-Your-Products-and-Career.

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