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How to Develop Thought Leadership when Self Employed

By MBO Partners |

Updated Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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To be seen as a trusted leader in your industry, it is important to cultivate thought leadership. Creating content and finding your own voice are good first steps. However, a big portion of thought leadership development is dedicated to having a presence—both physical and virtual—in the ongoing conversation within your area of expertise.

Becoming a thought leader at industry events and in online industry-related conversations begins as a participant and contributor. Here are three ways to find relevant groups, start meaningful conversations, and become recognized as an expert in your field.

1. Hone in On Your Area of Expertise

The strongest, most recognized thought leaders are known for diving deep into their area of expertise. When you let people know how much you care about your work, you’ll often find others who feel similarly. They will want to engage with you and talk to you about their ideas, the latest industry news, or an article that inspired them.

Maintain an online presence

An easy way to let your specialty shine is by maintaining an online presence. Make your area of expertise the focus of online social media profiles, your professional website, and any blogs or articles that you write.

2. Find and Participate in Conversations Online

In order to join the conversation, you have to find it first. Once you start looking, you may be surprised at how many different conversations are happening online that relate to your area of expertise.

If you’re not sure where to begin, start by thinking about the key terminology associated with your line of work. Search on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook for conversations or hashtags that involve these terms. Then, look at the people having these conversations. Follow individuals you think speak credibly about your interests, and, when you feel it is appropriate, add your voice to the mix.

Bring your online world into the real world

From there, keep an eye out for online events link open forum discussions. The beauty of the social media web of influence is that one word, tweet, or conversation can open the door to new opportunities to engage with people, organizations, and events.

3. Attend Industry Events

You’ll quickly find that many online communities also host different types of social engagement sessions, both in-person and online. Roundtable discussions or happy hours can be a great way to meet new people and connect with fellow independent professionals. As you begin to follow trending hashtags, ongoing forums, or industry-specific websites, keep an eye out for event opportunities.

Learn from industry experts, and then become one

Events like these are made for thought leaders, by thought leaders. Everyone who attends these events will likely share a common interest and it can be a great chance for you to meet and learn from people who are considered experts in your community.

As you continue your thought leadership quest, don’t be afraid to show passion for what you do. By surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who respect your enthusiasm, you can engage in valuable discussions, better connect with future clients, and grow your business.

Becoming a thought leader is an ongoing journey. Our thought leadership guide contains resources, information, and actionable steps for developing a thought leadership platform.


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