thought leader linkedinYou don’t have to be a celebrity in your industry to work toward becoming a thought leader. Sure, there’s always someone who knows more than you do. Don’t let it scare you away from thought leadership. You know a lot. In fact, you know things that the more successful thought leaders in your industry don’t.

Why bother with thought leadership? Think about your competitors. How do you separate yourself from them? Thought leadership can do that. It provides exposure to your innovative ideas. As you share your ideas, your prospects get to know you. They’re more likely to remember you if you inspire, tell stories, or compel them to change. B2B companies especially benefit from thought leadership with their longer, more complicated buying cycle.

But what does it mean to be a thought leader? Search the web and you’ll get different answers. Here’s an insightful one from Daniel W. Rasmus:

“Thought leadership should also be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.”

A thought leader is a person or business who shares forward-thinking viewpoints, takes a stand, and encounters dissenters. You can accomplish this anywhere: conferences, social networks, blogs, forums, and so on. Be sure to include LinkedIn in your thought leadership strategy. You can’t get much better than a social network for professionals.

This article will tell you how to take advantage of the best opportunities to provide thought leadership on LinkedIn.

The key to sharing your expertise is to be timely, relevant and progressive. Tell stories using real-life examples and you’ll have it made. Here are seven ways to achieve thought leadership on LinkedIn.

1. Publish blog posts: Your company’s website may have a blog. Still, you’ll want to write blog posts on LinkedIn as it’ll show up high on search engine results. The fact the content appears on LinkedIn gives it a big boost. A valuable post would be based on interviews with industry leaders, connectors, and influencers. They’ll most likely publicize the post and it could go viral.

2. Post status updates: Share industry news, link to deep-dive articles and guides, provide tips, and ask questions.

3. Participate in Groups: Answer questions without any sales spiel. This enhances your credibility to help you build relationships on LinkedIn. You can also pose questions that get people thinking and start interesting conversations. The questions you ask can make as big an impression, if not more, as your answers.

4. Respond to others: Respond to status updates, Group posts, and blog posts. People appreciate being heard and acknowledged.

5. Share other people’s posts: The simple act of sharing earns Brownie points with the person who originally posted the update and puts you in top of mind with them and those who catch your share.

6. Add media to your profile: You can add documents, photos, links to external resources, videos and presentations. If you give a speech or presentation at a professional event, get it recorded and have someone take photos. Documents can be white papers, case studies, articles and other useful tidbits. Do podcasts or webinars? Include those too. Mentioned in an online article, link to it.

7. Send messages: When you come across something of interest to a prospect, share that in a private message. The prospect will appreciate the thoughtfulness and you gain credibility, which increases chances of being remembered when the prospect needs your company.

Now that you know where to post your thought leadership, go give away your ideas. Don’t worry about sharing your secrets. Many companies won’t have the energy and resources execute them. Instead, they’ll go to someone whose ideas mesh with their company’s goals and can do the job well.

What other ways can you use LinkedIn for thought leadership?

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