To be considered a trusted independent consultant, one must go a long way to become established as a thought leader. While content creation and developing your own “voice” are fundamental elements, a heavy portion of thought leadership development is dedicated to having a presence in your area of expertise’s discourse and industry events, both physically and virtually.
Before one can be a leader at industry events and in industry discourse, typically they begin as a participant and contributor. Below are some ways to find these events, conversations, and general buzz.
The strongest, most recognized thought leaders are known for really diving deep – even “nerding out” – about their area of expertise. Let it be known that you care this much about your work, and often times you will find others of a similar ilk who feel comfortable to engage with you in free-form discussion about your field.
An easy way to make this declaration is in your online presence. Let it be a premier part of “About You” in your social media, website, and online channel profiles.
In order to join the conversation, one must first find it. You may be surprised how many different conversations may be happening in online discourse about your area of expertise.
For an easy start, think about the key terms associated with your line of work. Begin a search on Twitter for any conversations or hashtags that involve these terms. Twitter’s search mechanism automatically shows the most popular tweets, discussions, and individuals discussing a particular topic.
Next, take a look at the people having the conversations. It is perfectly normal Twitter etiquette to begin following these individuals, and, when appropriate, chiming in on the conversation. From there, there may be some online events that create an open forum for discussion of particular industry trends or topics.
The beauty of the social media web of influence is that one word, tweet, conversation, and/or person can open the door to other opportunities for engagement with new people, organizations, and events.
Many online communities also host events, round tables, “happy hours,” or other social engagement sessions, whether online or in-person. It is best to check the trending hashtags, as noted above, to find these sites and resources that may be hosting these events. Often times, one can subscribe to these resources to receive updates/happenings/news around their (and your) topic of interest.
Events like these are made for thought leaders, by thought leaders…whether established or ones on the rise. Everyone shares a common interest, and is open for sharing and discussing the topics within their subject freely. Since these events are “opt-in,” no one is forced to participate, so the discourse remains open and honest.
From a “tweet chat” to a “Metro area meet-up,” these are the people worth knowing, sharing, and learning from as you continue your thought leadership quest.
It bears repeating: don’t be afraid to show your passion for what you do – you are with like-minded individuals who will respect your enthusiasm and will be more willing to engage you in discussion. And these events are ONLY for those who share your interests.
Launching your thought leadership strategy can be quite overwhelming. That’s why MBO worked with the leading thought leaders in consulting to create Thought Leadership for Independent Consultants, a guide with resources, information, and action steps to becoming a thought leader.
2015 taught us a lot. But 2016 is already shaping up to be a pivotal year for independent contractors, and the enterprises that engage them regularly. From tools and technology to generational change and the remote worker revolution, there’s a lot to learn. We’re offering a brief overview below, and will dive deeper on each issue in the coming weeks.
Being a thought leader takes time, skill, and insight—here’s how you can rise to the top of your field as an independent contractor.