Being seen as a credible expert or thought leader in today’s ‘reputation economy’ brings with it a raft of benefits and opportunities potentially closed off to those leaders and professionals who are hidden from view, the ‘best kept secret’ in their industry.
People who understand this dynamic have hit the personal branding treadmill; some are jogging along slowly, others have cranked up the pace.
But many – most? – are doing so without too much thought, direction or purpose.
We live in a noisy, digital-first world where every second man, woman and their dog is pitching a course, blueprint or formula on how to “build your authority, get more leads, make more money … in less time”.
Some of those pitching are experts at the top of their game.
They’re tactically savvy, often around one aspect of marketing or content creation, for example. THINK: video production, email copywriting, TikTok, podcasting, or Instagram. And that’s absolutely fine. There will/may come a time when you need help from someone with deep expertise around a particular tool, platform or media format.
But be aware: there is also a plethora of wannabes who have merely jumped on a bandwagon that’s hurtling unabated in an upwards direction.
Unfortunately, they’re out there in droves, contributing to the informational noise that envelopes us all (and confusing a lot of people along the way).
Oftentimes, these wannabes look good.
They have their marketing down pat.
They sound persuasive.
But scratch beneath the surface and hopefully you’ll spot these imitators.
In my experience, the people I see who have genuinely built their reputation as an influential thought leader have done so because they’ve been able to master many of skills required to make it happen.
But perhaps more than that, they share numerous attributes that have contributed greatly to their personal branding success.
Specifically, they have the right attitude and mindset which has helped them take action and make things happen in a positive way.
Put another way, they didn’t just adopt someone’s ‘authority blueprint’ and voila, instant success!
At the end of the day, it’s about sustainability, and playing the long game, and that requires more than just having the right skills.
With this in mind …
What does it take to become a credible, influential voice in the marketplace today?
Here are some ideas:
✊ Standing for something.
💪 Living by your values and principles.
🤜 Developing a philosophy around your industry, profession, or area of expertise.
🙌 Articulating strong points of view in line with your values and philosophy.
👍 Creating compelling content around those points of view.
✍️ Forming concepts and ideas, and creating frameworks that challenge conventional wisdom.
🧠. Provoking thought, inspiring people to think bigger.
👉 Being consistent with your story and your message across multiple channels.
👌 Showing up and delivering value for your audience time and time again without the expectation of getting anything in return.
👨👨👧👦 Deepening the level of connection you have with your audience (fans, followers and subscribers), ensuring you bring them along for the journey as you all learn together.
⏰ Investing the necessary time and effort required to create top-notch content, read and comment on other people’s LinkedIn posts and tweets, reply to those who comment on your posts or share your tweets, prepare presentations for webinars and keynote speaking engagements, attend events, meet up with industry influencers, etc.
The above are all hallmarks of what it takes to build a successful thought leader brand today.
In fact, I’d go as far as to describe them as ‘table stakes’, given the level of noise and competition that’s out there.
Actions such as these will help differentiate you in the marketplace, not to mention help people identify with your cause or mission. This, in turn, will help you grow your audience and sphere of influence.
Of course, it would be terrific to be able to tick off all of these boxes, but when you’re in the early stages of building your professional brand, that’s gonna be hard. But hang in there – over time you’ll develop and then master the skills necessary to take your game to the next level!
What’s the common factor in what we’re talking about here?
Having the right mindset will take you further than you thought possible when it comes to growing your professional profile and reputation, and taking advantage of the opportunities that come with an elevated positioning in the marketplace.
When I think of mindset, the following springs to mind …
Being able to successfully overcome the insidious nature of negativity and self-doubt, specifically:
- Imposter syndrome
- Pursuit of perfectionism
- Fear or dislike of technology (“technophobia”)
On the flip side, overconfidence can cause problems, especially if it leads to arrogance. Having the wrong attitude is a killer!
Let’s face it, no-one wants to follow someone who:
- makes it all about them
- claims to know it all
- doesn’t listen to others
- always talks themselves up
- over-hypes their achievements
- has a scarcity mindset and won’t share what they know.
Why is all this important?
If our attitude is wrong: if we make it all about us, and we’re closed off to people and ideas, then we’ll never properly build an engaged audience.
If we don’t build an engaged audience, we will never be able to effectively amplify our stories and ideas in the public domain.
If we can’t get our mindset right and get on top of roadblocks and issues that cause self-sabotage, then we can never effectively put ourselves out there online and build a personal brand that is truly representative of our professional selves.
👉 How can we create powerful, thought-provoking content if we’re constantly second-guessing ourselves?
👉 How can we provide useful tips and ideas on social channels if we don’t deem ourselves worthy enough to do so?
But, with the right attitude and mindset, we are able to:
- develop self-confidence (alongside humility)
- become more open and connected to people and ideas
- embrace entrepreneurial ‘scrappiness’
- become comfortable putting our head above the virtual parapet and exploring ideas in public
- learn to love technology so we can leverage it to spread our story and our message
- remain hyper-curious, and interested in others
These are valuable attributes we should be developing as we build our professional personal brand in the marketplace.
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