Jaclyn Messina|Jun 6, 2016

A thought leader is a person who not only contributes to a conversation, but drives it forward with new ideas, new insight and a unique perspective, eventually becoming a trusted voice in his or her respective industry.

The term thought leader is a coveted moniker that few truly achieve. That’s because, at the end of the day, thought leader is not a label you can simply choose to adopt on a whim; instead, it is an honor and respect earned and bequeathed upon you by your peers.

If you want to become the go-to source of information and expertise, as well as drive innovative change, then you need to build good habits. Below are five things that every thought leader does on a weekly (or even daily!) basis, regardless of industry.

1. Influence the Influencers

Use social media as a tool to reach your industry influencers, which include reporters.

Research the media members who cover topics that fall under your umbrella of expertise, and follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Regularly update your social media feeds with thought-provoking, insightful content on current events, and make efforts to connect with the influencers. Comment on their tweets and posts, but always make sure the communication provides new angles or perspective.

2. Be Committed to Blog Posts

Most thought leaders stay up-to-date with their own blogs.

Thought leaders should always have one particular vantage point that is the foundation of his or her innovative change, and all subsequent content should reflect and support that ONE thing.

Blog about current events, and feel free to repurpose your content (from bylines to speeches).

3. Network with Peers and Up-and-Comers

Attend local networking events or make your presence known at industry events as often as possible.

Additionally, make time for folks who may be new to the business, but demonstrate a penchant for learning. Thought leaders enjoy the interaction and have a passion for teaching and mentorship.

It’s these types of relationship-builders that further cement your commitment to your industry and community.

4. Vet Speaking Opportunities

Innovative ideas need to be heard, and researching the right speaking opportunities is key for a thought leader.

Look for a platform to speak to an audience who will appreciate your ideas and can, in turn, implement the learnings into their own business.

5. Read the News

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is worth reiterating the importance of staying up-to-date on current events.

Thought leaders tend to take this one step further and comment on breaking news stories (e.g., in the comments sections available on most online media outlets). Be sure to always make clear who you are and where you work before adding your insight and remarks.

Thought leadership is an exciting journey, one that takes time, patience and commitment. The thought leaders you may be familiar with didn’t achieve this status overnight, but worked tirelessly to demonstrate expertise while providing a proven track record in his or her field.

For an additional read about some of today’s top thought leaders, check out this Entrepreneur article that features influencers like Richard Branson and Gary Vaynerchuk.


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