Positioning Thought Leaders

Thought Leader 3

This is the third post in a series; in the first post of this series on thought leaders I wrote about defining thought leaders and gave some well-known examples.  In the second I talked about finding your thought leaders. Today I’m going to suggest ways to position your thought leaders to best represent your company or organisation. Most often this is a “big company” question, so I am assuming some internal support, but a number of the ideas can be adapted for smaller organisations.

Your thought leaders need to have the credibility of the organisation behind them and they need to be speaking on their thought leader topic both internally and externally. Here are some ways to make that happen.

Job Title

Their Job Title needs to match their role in the company and their authority as a thought leader.

AOL has a digital prophet, David Shing (known as Shingy), who turns up at conferences and event around the world. Would he be so popular as a conference speaker with a job title “Trend Analyst”? There are plenty of other creative job titles out there to consider, are you more curious about the Chief of Operations or the Chief Troublemaker?

Maybe such edgy titles aren’t right for your organisation, pick one closer to your organisation’s business culture that reflects the authority and expertise of your thought leader.

Internal Role

Your thought leaders should be known across your company for their vision and expertise. Your employees should be be inspired by your thought leaders otherwise who are they leading?

Having your thought leaders speak at internal events builds their reputation as visionaries, it gives them practice at speaking, and it gives your employees confidence to “spread the word” with their own networks which builds the thought leader’s external visibility.

External Visibility

Speaking Events

Identify the key events that your thought leader should speak, go beyond your own industry and look for more events with a wider audience.

Pitch your thought leader as a speaker, many conferences have open calls for speakers, but don’t be afraid to contact the conference organiser and discuss your ideas. The more  you know about the conference the more specific your pitch can be.

Support your speaker, with training, speech-writing and preparation sessions. You want to have a high impact.

Promote your thought leader’s participation in all speaking events – before, during and after the event; this could be internal announcements, press releases, company tweets, or relevant articles sharing some content from the speech, or publishing the presentation online.

Online

Use online tools to build and re-inforce your thought leaders’ reputation.

  • profile on company site makes a clear association between the company and the thought leader.
  • company blog – on company’s own site or via an external platform such as Medium – gives the thought leader
  • social media,  which platform you use will depend on your audience but likely candidates are;
    • LinkedIn profile, a quality profile will support your thought leaders’ reputation, you can add presentations to the profile to boost the content
    • LinkedIn Pulse,  you’ll have to work with LinkedIn to make this work, but it’s a great way to build a reputation. Part of joining pulse means committing to a minimum publication cycle of one post per month..
    • Twitter, use of twitter depends very much on the target audience, but even if your consumers are not using twitter other business people and journalists are.  It can be a great way to promote content for other content, and during events. One of the best CEO’s on twitter has become a bit of a thought leader on organisational culture, Peter Aceto.
    • SlideShare, this is a great way to store and share presentations made by your thought leader, and they can be embedded into other sites, or shared on social media.

It’s an integrated approach that will take discipline and time, but it will build the reputation of your thought leader across audiences.

Image: The Thinker  |  Christopher Brown  |  CC BY-2.0

 

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